CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The City of Charleston has a new Director of Emergency Management.
Ben Almquist started his new position on August 8th. Before joining the City of Charleston staff, Almquist worked as the Director of Emergency Management for Berkeley County for the last four years.
“It’s a change in structure. Berkeley County, you’re talking about a larger area, a much more rural area and less of a centralized government. Here, we’ve got a more centralized government. We also have more people packed into a smaller area,” said Almquist. “So, the challenges are definitely different.”
Almquist said his first order of business is to assess the department and the current operations. To prepare for the potential threat of hurricanes this season, Almquist said he and his team are reviewing the Emergency Operations Plan.
“I’m currently meeting with emergency staff. Getting an assessment of what they’ve done in the past. Any areas that they feel we can do better. And then implementing my own best practices and lessons learned from my previous experience,” said Almquist.
When it comes to flooding, the department is analyzing how to improve response and get rid of the water faster.
“Trying to prevent flooding, of course, is the ultimate goal. But when it does happen, how are we protecting the citizens? How are we making sure that they’re getting the information they need so that they can avoid flooded areas? How do we make sure we are limiting damaged property, potential hazards to people?” asked Almquist.
Almquist said his ultimate goal is to make Charleston a safer place for the people who live there.
Almquist replaced former director, Shannon Scaff, who city officials said left in June for a new job in Arizona.