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County Council, September 20

Need for protection from severe hurricanes
Bids for Naval Hospital to be released

Thursday’s Council meeting should have been held last week. But it was deferred because of the possible impact of Hurricane Florence.

There were lots of congratulatory remarks directed to staff, CARTA, surrounding Counties and others for the work done or help provided in preparing for the hurricane. Fortunately it was a non-event but the experience raised some interesting questions. In particular, where do folk go if a pending hurricane is ranked 4 or 5 with winds over 130 mph and 157 mph respectively? These were the predicted scales of Florence when it first looked like threatening Charleston.

The answer it seems is nowhere. There were a lot of folk waiting to be evacuated before Florence but there were no places that guaranteed protection from such high winds. School buildings were thought to offer a high level of protection but it seems that few buildings suitable to house evacuees exist in the region. So it’s a problem that staff has been tasked to consider. It won’t be an easy solution.

Chairman Rawl also noted that the problem is not confined to finding or building suitable structures. Provision has to be made for security and he cited problems in Florida amongst evacuees at a shelter facility during a past hurricane.
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Public agitation pays off. Chairman Rawl said that the County would release details of the two bids made for the old Naval Hospital. The Post and Courier and others have sought details of the bids but the County up to now has refused the request. It did say that neither bid was acceptable.
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And finally, Council member Schweers asked about the creation of the Committee to consider changing the structure of the CARTA board. Chairman Rawl said the Committee had been formed with Council member Summey as Chair. Council members Qualey and Sass are Committee members. A meeting has already been held, Chairman Summey noted. As Council member Schweers was concerned that the Committee was dormant, he must not have known of the past meeting. We keep our eye on the County calendar and confess to missing it too. Maybe a notice wasn’t there,

Council member Schweers is a director of CARTA. He has commented a number of times about changing the structure of the CARTA board. He would like to see professionals appointed to the board that at the moment is dominated by local politicians. How successful his efforts will prove is conjectural. Any change that is suggested would have to be approved by the State and we’d guess the mayors of the County’s cities and municipalities would not be in favor. The author is Council member Schweer’s proxy on the CARTA board.