4-H'ers prepare to help with hurricane evacuation

By Tom Lollis

Howard van DijkDuring future hurricanes, coastal South Carolinians may rely on maps developed with the help of 4-H'ers to find safe shelter for their pets.

This spring, 4-H youth, volunteers and Extension agents participated in a pilot program to identify evacuation routes using global positioning equipment and mapping software.

Training materials for the program, called "Alert, Evacuate and Shelter-Mapping Our Way to Safety," were developed by faculty members from Clemson and universities in Georgia, Missouri and Nevada. Sponsored by the USDA and funded by a National Geographic Society grant, the program will be offered to all 12 east coast states within a year.

"These emergency preparedness programs developed by the National Geographic Society prepare 4-H youths across the nation to help with disaster relief," said Howard van Dijk, Clemson Extension emergency preparedness coordinator.

One way that the 4-H'ers may use their new skills could be helping emergency officials meet a new federal requirement to develop an emergency sheltering plan for pets during evacuations.

For information: Howard van Dijk, 803-865-1216, ext. 128, hdijk@clemson.edu