S.C. Agencies Prepare Early for Winter Months

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (Monday, December 1, 2014, 1:30 P.M.) - The South Carolina Emergency Management Division, along with the agencies that comprise the State Emergency Response Team, encourages everyone in South Carolina to prepare for the upcoming winter season during South Carolina Winter Weather Awareness Week.  This is the first time the State of South Carolina has co-sponsored this week with the National Weather Service.  
SCEMD and the SERT have produced a new “Severe Winter Weather in South Carolina” guide to help people prepare for winter-related hazards.  The guide contains tips on what to do before, during and after a major winter storm, check lists, information on how to get the current status of government offices and more.  The Guide is currently available at every Walgreens store statewide and online for download at scemd.org
“Be prepared, prepare yourself and if an event occurs, don’t go out,” Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the Adjutant General for S.C. said, “Team South Carolina is ready, we hope our citizens are too and we’re here to help you.”
“We’ve already seen one snow storm in several counties on November 1, and we’ve all felt below-freezing temperatures recently,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said, “While you’re out holiday shopping this week, think about picking up supplies that will help you should we experience another ice storm in the coming months.”
Maj. Gen. Livingston and Director Stenson were joined by representatives from partner agencies during a joint winter weather news conference Monday morning.
“A quarter of an inch of ice can bring down a power line, and our focus this year is on early preparedness for winter weather,” said Steven Naglic, forecaster with NWS.
“This year, we were hit hard early in the year by winter weather,” Capt. Rob Woods with the S.C. Highway Patrol said.  “From a highway safety standpoint, we saw few serious collisions, however, because motorists heeded our warnings to stay off the roadways. The very best advice that troopers can give motorists – based on their experiences patrolling – is to be prepared before winter weather hits with an emergency kit in your car and to realize that we are working in conjunction with SCEMD and other agencies to provide the most up-to-date information on roadway conditions.”
Woods urged motorists to monitor real-time traffic on the South Carolina Highway Patrol website, www.scdps.gov/schp/webcad.asp, and to look for winter weather driving tips on the SCDPS website, www.scdps.gov/WinterWeatherDrivingTips2.pdf.
“There were 31 fire-related fatalities in South Carolina during last December through March, that’s almost half of all fire fatalities for the entire year,” State Fire Marshal Bert Polk said, “We see a spike of heating related fires this time of year… but we have an opportunity to work together to safeguard lives. 
“We prioritize our routes, interstates first, then major roads and then secondary roads.  It’s important that everyone heed the warnings to stay off the roads,” said David Cook with the S.C. Dept. of Transportation.
“Ice will bring the electric lines down.  When the storm comes, if it comes, if the lines are on the ground, stay away from them.”  said C. Dukes Scott, Director of the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.
“Everyone should take this time to winterize their home and protect it from the damages that are associated with winter weather,” said Ray Farmer, Director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
On Sunday, December 7, the state Severe Winter Weather Guide will be distributed via subscription and rack sales of all daily newspapers in the state including: the Aiken Standard, the Anderson Independent-Mail, the Post & Courier, The State, the Florence Morning News, the Greenville News, the Greenwood Index-Journal, Hilton Head Island Packet, the Beaufort Gazette, the Myrtle Beach Sun News, the Orangeburg Times & Democrat, the Rock Hill Herald, the Seneca Journal, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the Sumter Item, and the Union Daily Times.
Several sponsors directly contributed to the printing and distribution of the Winter Weather Guide, including:  State Farm Insurance, S.C. Electric and Gas, Duke Energy, the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and Santee Cooper Power.                                                                                    
Staying connected is a critical part of staying safe during severe winter weather.  SCEMD will post emergency alerts and the latest information regarding any large-scale emergency via the Division’s social feeds such as Facebook and Twitter. By following @SCEMD, users are also able to share information about conditions in their communities