COLUMBIA, SC (STL.News) Governor Henry McMaster has authorized the South Carolina Emergency Management Division to send its Chief of Operations Support and Logistics to Kentucky to assist with tornado response and recovery efforts. The request for assistance from Kentucky came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or EMAC, which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance.
“Team South Carolina is ready to provide any and all aid we can lend,” said Governor McMaster. “We have relied on the people of Kentucky during some of South Carolina’s most difficult times. We are duty-bound to help a fellow state in need, and we’re going to help our friends who’ve been there for us when we needed them the most.”
SCEMD Chief of Logistics Guy Gierhart deployed in the early morning hours Wednesday to assist the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency. While there, Gierhart will be coordinating disaster relief personnel and supplies coming into the state from all over the country. He will work mainly out of the state emergency operations center in Frankfort and is prepared to help out in any way.
“My first day at SCEMD was October 2, 2015, just as South Carolina was being severely impacted by the historic 1,000-year flood,” said Gierhart. “The people of Kentucky helped us then and during every disaster we’ve experienced since. Their official request came in, we wasted no time getting ready to go.”
In his time with the Division, Gierhart and his team managed the provision of disaster resources during the 2015 Flood; the Pinnacle Mountain Fire; and Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Irma, and Dorian. Most recently, Gierhart and the SCEMD logistics team helped secure millions of medical supplies and personal protective equipment for South Carolina’s hospitals and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In recent years, SCEMD has deployed staff to Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Puerto Rico, and others to assist in the aftermath of tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, and even a volcano,” said SCEMD Director Kim Stenson. “We are continuing this tradition of support by deploying personnel to Kentucky. I thank the emergency management personnel throughout South Carolina who have offered to assist. This is another example of the dedication of public safety employees in the Palmetto State to help those who are impacted by a disaster.”
Ways to help Kentucky
People who’d like to help tornado survivors in Kentucky can do so through many ways of their choosing. Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund is a single fund connected with the state that will help fund the ground efforts taking place right now and the relief efforts families will need to rebuild.
Visit TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov to learn how to best help those in need.