Columbus County Sheriff’s Office gets $5 million worth of hurricane equipment free

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One of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office’s five high water vehicles. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear region may not take a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian, but local law enforcement agencies are still preparing.

The Columbus County Sheriff says they have made leaps and bounds in terms of hurricane preparedness.

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Sheriff Jody Greene says when Hurricane Florence hit, his office had nothing. He says in just a year’s time, he has turned things around and is confident that they will be ready the next time a hurricane hits.

“The great thing about all this stuff, it’s free,” Greene said.

A year ago Florence left parts of Columbus County decimated and people desperate for help.

“Columbus County Sheriff’s Office had no equipment,” Greene said.

In the very peak of hurricane season, Greene says they are ready for almost anything.

“Five high water vehicles,” he said. “We have humvees. We have generators, heating and air units attached to generators. We have walk-in deep freezers. We have a back hoe, a forklift.”

Greene says they even a few boats. He says the his office is now equipped with just about anything they would need to deliver supplies, rescue families and keep shelters running.

During Florence, Greene says their patrol cars did not stand a chance in flood waters.

“What we have now would pretty much take a river to stop,” he said. “We’re constantly training. We’re having classes. We’re teaching people how to operate this equipment. It’s just beneficial to everybody in the county.”

Greene says they now have more than $5 million worth of equipment that did not cost a dime.

His office applied to be in a partnership program with the federal government.

“You go online,” he said. “You tell them why you need a specific piece of equipment. You have to give a synopsis of why you need it. Then it goes through the state level and federal level and if it’s approved, it’s yours.”

Now, Greene says he is confident people can count on them to be there the next time something happens.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “If you just ask and stay on top of it. Look around. We laugh and joke around the office. We call it ‘Camp Coco’ now.”