Thursday, December 20, 2018

Association of SC Mayors meeting targets emergency preparedness

From hurricanes to dam failures to acts of terrorism, the list of disasters which could impact South Carolina includes nearly everything, with the possible exception of volcanoes. 

Some of the disasters in the state's history have earned significant places in South Carolina folklore. The impact of the earthquake that struck a severe blow to Charleston on August 31,1886, can still be seen in the earthquake bolts added to reinforce the stability of houses throughout the lower peninsula.

The ever-present possibility of disaster provided the subject for a meeting of a recent meeting of the Association of South Carolina Mayors at the headquarters of the SC Emergency Management Division, in which SCEMD staff gave an overview of key emergency planning issues for city and town officials. 

The role of municipalities in emergency management is not as regulated as the role of counties. SC Code of Regulations Section 58-1 calls for each county to maintain an emergency management agency. Those entities are the primary point of contact for SCEMD at a local level during an actively unfolding situation. 

That said, the Code of Regulations also encourages municipalities to voluntarily establish their own emergency management program, which must coordinate with the county to request federal or state assistance. Cities and towns can also participate in state emergency exercises alongside counties.

Coordination issues aside, municipal officials face the same need for communication in a crisis as any other authority, and the Municipal Association provides tips for this situation. During the mayors’ meeting, SCEMD Public Information Officer Derrec Becker covered social media, interacting with news media and the importance of a city public information officer in an emergency, even going so far as to conduct a mock media interview for a disaster situation using his cell phone camera.

SCEMD staff also highlighted its new SC Emergency Manager app, which allows users to build emergency plans, find shelters, report damage and even use the phone's speakers as a locator whistle.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Farewell and thanks

By Reba Hull Campbell, Deputy Executive Director

As I’ve been cleaning out my office in happy anticipation of my Jan. 2 retirement date, many memories tucked in files, desk drawers and boxes have given me a chance to reflect on an exciting, fun-filled, lively, never-boring 35 years working in government, politics, communications and campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. 

Three 10-year-plus stints (U.S. Congress, SCETV and the Municipal Association) with a few shorter positions (campaigns, lobbying, nonprofit work) thrown in have given me the chance to see government at its best far more often than not. I’m grateful to have worked alongside so many people who truly believe in the power to do good and who are passionate about that. 

There’s one item on my desk that really drives home this feeling of gratitude. It’s a framed version of the well-known Theodore Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena. 
I’ve had this quote on my desk everywhere I’ve worked for the past 25 years. A former co-worker gave a copy to all of us who worked together on a hard fought, yet losing, campaign as we parted ways. 

This quote always reminds me not only to be in the arena myself, but also to be around people who want to be there too  to surround myself with people who count on each other to take risks, make the hard decisions and dare greatly. 

Shortly, I will wrap up this chapter of my life with huge gratitude to so many people who have encouraged me to be in the arena  to dare greatly in my own way. Countless mentors, friends, advisers, family, colleagues and bosses have paid it forward to me, believed in me, encouraged me to be my best and helped me up when I’ve fallen (a post on my personal blog shares some of my lessons learned from these people). 

However, more importantly, I’m grateful to have worked alongside so many committed public servants who live this “being in the arena” value every day. Over the past 13 years at the Municipal Association, it’s been mayors and councilmembers who have dreams for their cities and are willing to take time from their families, personal lives and the jobs to make their communities better. 

It’s been my colleagues at the Association who are always pushing each other to try new things while having each others’ backs. 

It’s been the city staff people I’ve come to know and respect who work tirelessly every day to make sure our cities are run efficiently. 

All of this is often behind the scenes work that the outside world isn’t aware of  but it’s important work, and I’m just grateful to have played a small part in it.

As I finish up packing boxes and doling out various parts of my job to my very capable colleagues, I shout out a huge thanks to everyone who has made these past 13 years pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to whatever’s next, and I hope to continue to cross paths with many of you! 

In general, the following people will be taking over various parts of my current role. Any of them will be able to capably get you anything you need going forward:

Tiger Wells – legislative
Meredith Houck – communications
Casey Fields – media
Patty Adams – she can direct you for anything else