‘Things went pretty well’: Horry County E-911 director on Hurricane Dorian

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – With Hurricane Dorian over and out of the area, Horry County E-911 director Renee Hardwick says the call center was prepared, because Horry County is no stranger to hurricanes.

“Things went pretty well,” she said.

Horry County E-911 dispatchers were called in at 5 a.m. the morning the first strong winds of Hurricane Dorian hit, and they didn’t miss a beat.

The most beneficial part, according to Hardwick, was the phone bank Horry County sets up when there’s a storm, for general questions.

“All those calls that go to that phone bank, if it wasn’t up and running, it would be here that they would come, because people are going to reach out to the government,” said Hardwick. “I mean, our purpose is to serve the people, but you know, all those calls about the storm and things like that can go out to the phone bank.”

A big myth that Hardwick stressed to not fall for in the Hurricane Dorian Horry County EOC press briefings was that it’s okay to dial 9-1-1 if your power’s out. She says she thinks most didn’t fall for that myth.

However, they did call in for other odd topics.

“My neighbors’ trashcans are out, trash pickup’s tomorrow, and, will that, that could become a projectile,” said Hardwick. “We got one where a trampoline, you know, got caught up in the wind, and called us about that. Well, there’s not anything we can do about that either.”

Another myth is to not call back if you’ve accidentally dialed 9-1-1, which isn’t true, she tells News13 you should call back, and they plan to introduce a text messaging system that will text you if you do make the accidental call to see if you’re okay.

They plan to roll out the text messaging system in the latter part of the year, according to Hardwick. She says many other dispatch centers have already implemented the use of texts in their call centers.

Overall, E-911 was able to bring in supervisors and circulate staff between shifts so they didn’t get tired during the Hurricane, unlike Hurricane Florence where it was all hands on deck, 24/7.

“You know, everybody did what they needed to do. We were able to handle what was coming in, in a timely manner, and you know, we’re proud,” she said. “We have very hardworking people who want to do the right thing always.”

Hardwick says that it’s important even when you’re not dealing with storms, not to call 9-1-1 unless it is a true emergency.

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