The Georgetown County Emergency Management Division has been named the 2023 Agency of the Year by the South Carolina Emergency Management Association.
The surprise announcement was made during the association’s annual conference held February 20-24 in Charleston. Nominees for the award are judged by their emergency management peers and the award is given to the emergency management agency that has made the most significant improvement or difference in their community during the past year in mitigating, responding to or recovering from a disaster.
“I was completely shocked when we were called on stage, but I’m not surprised given the strong team that we have here in Georgetown County,” said Brandon Ellis, Director of Georgetown County Emergency Services, which includes the Emergency Management Division.
The Georgetown County Emergency Management Division was nominated for this year’s award by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division due to local preparedness, response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Ian last fall. The nomination cited the county’s ability to quickly respond to impacts from tropical cyclones through not only a robust planning process, but also by completing recent equipment purchases to include high-water vehicles using emergency management grant funding, which allowed for rapid response operations as Hurricane Ian made landfall in Georgetown County. Additionally, the county’s efforts to quickly mobilize damage assessment team members post landfall helped with rapid data collection, effectively expediting the implementation of federal assistance programs for residents, businesses and local governments throughout the impacted area.
“We were actively working to develop our post storm strategy as Hurricane Ian was preparing to make landfall. With information rolling into the Emergency Operations Center from our stakeholders in the field, we were able to identify the areas that needed to be assessed without wasting any time the next morning,” Ellis said.
This isn’t the first time that the Georgetown County Emergency Management Division has been recognized as the best in the state. In 2015, the division received the same award under the leadership of now retired Emergency Manager Sam Hodge.
“This recognition would not have been possible without the outstanding partnerships that we have with all of our stakeholder agencies. It was extra special for me to have not only my predecessor, but my mentor and friend Sam Hodge present the award to me,” Ellis said.