Tommy Batson

Tommy Batson, Director of Pender County Emergency Management took time away from his beach vacation this morning to talk to our Club about the Emergency Management Department in the county. His department coordinates various state, federal and local agencies that work together for all types of emergencies, whether it is a swift water rescue, a wildfire, or a hurricane. Of course being August, hurricanes were on everyone’s mind. Emergency Preparation Plans are reviewed with all the staff prior to hurricane season to be sure all the bases are covered. When a hurricane threatens Topsail Island several steps are taken the closer and closer the storm gets to landfall.

By the time of landfall everyone representing up to 30 agencies and municipalities are sequestered in the Emergency Operations Center in Burgaw. Hours are long and tense as reports come in over the county communications network. As conditions permit, the EOC works to coordinate with the appropriate agency to get ‘boots on the ground’ where people need help and facilities need restoration.

Category 5 super typhoon from outer space view. The eye of the hurricane. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

Tommy stressed that everyone needs to have their hurricane preparedness plan in place before hurricane season arrives. Given the low elevation of Topsail Island and the threat of total island over wash in a Cat 5 storm, everyone must leave the island when the emergency declaration to evacuate is issued. What you will take, where you will go determines the basis of your plan including pets which may or may not be allowed in shelters.

Although we are well into the start of hurricane season, it is not too late to get organized. Everything you need to make your plan can be found on the Pender County Emergency Management webpage at