She's confused and frail. She can't go without her wheelchair. She won't go without her Shih Tzu. She's not sure where she's headed. The public bus is her only way away from a Hugo-like storm.
And there are 30 to 50 more people like her in line behind.
The Charleston County workers trying to handle that emergency boarding on Monday won't even know the worst of it. Two days later, with those evacuees in shelters inland as recovery efforts begin, word will come down: A weapon of mass destruction. Somewhere in the Upstate.
The state's annual hurricane season disaster response drill takes place starting Monday, and orange cones won't be the only thing to set straight. The week-long exercise involves thousands of workers among more than 100 local, state, federal and private agencies. The idea is to see how well procedures and people would mesh in a real-time catastrophe.
The drill this year complicates the response to a Hurricane Hugo mock disaster with a weapon of mass destruction mock disaster, among a number of disruptions to the by-the-book protocol. And this year, the focus is on recovery efforts.
"A variety of issues that come up immediately after a storm and for years afterward," said Derrec Becker, public information coordinator for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
The most visible sign of the drill will be orange cones and phalanxes of Highway Patrol cars and officers on Monday as the state stages a reversal of Interstate 26 lanes. The lanes won't actually be reversed. But the drill is exhaustive enough that for the first time, Charleston County Emergency Management Department will drill an untested plan to evacuate by public transportation people who can't evacuate on their own.
That would involve moving shelter overflow evacuees to Columbia, said Jason Patno, department director
Added to that will be the staging of a volunteer reception center in the Lowcountry -- a one-stop check-in for people wanting to assist with hurricane recovery efforts.
In Darlington, meanwhile, workers will set up a disaster- recovery center, a prototype of the one-stop shopping assistance point for residents after a storm. At least one center would be set up in every county.
Meanwhile, the Army Reserve 415th Chemical Brigade in Greenville, among other military and public safety agencies, will get an unpleasant complication to their hurricane response duties -- a simulated terrorist threat.
"A mock terror group takes advantage of the hurricane to attack a location in the Upstate," Becker said.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.