Dash Pass authorizes homeowners’ re-entry after emergency event

  • Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ON AUGUST 14, college student D’Asia Green spent about five minutes signing up for her Zone Dash Pass at the Alex Chatman Complex. Staff with the Emergency Management Division will be conducting signups at various locations throughout August. PHOTO BY MICHAELE DUKE

Scenario 1:

A category 5 hurricane slams through Williamsburg County, leaving behind hundreds of destroyed homes, flooding, roads cut off by debris, and power outages. Before the massive storm hit, nearly all its citizens were evacuated. Once it is deemed safe to return home, they display a 4x5 Zone Dash Pass with their zone printed on it to law enforcement personnel and they’re sent on their way.

Scenario 2:

A category 5 hurricane slams through Williamsburg County, leaving behind hundreds of destroyed homes, flooding, roads cut off by debris, and power outages. Before the massive storm hit, nearly all its citizens were evacuated. Upon your return you find a nightmare but it’s not physical damaged to your home. With no means for law enforcement to check the legitimacy of those coming and going, looters have had a field day in your community and one of the homes they targeted was yours. They ransacked your home and stole your valuables. The homeowners next door will arrive to squatters who have taken up residence in their house.

If given the choice, scenario #1 would make sense Unlike a driver’s license that can have outdated information, the dash pass shows the zone you live in and is easily readable by law enforcement and emergency responders.

Jacksonville, Florida, North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, and Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana to name a few partake similar programs.

And it makes sense why these measures have been adopted given the crime wave following a hurricane. Countless news reports have documented squatters crashing empty homes, looting and other crimes after hurricanes Katrina, Irene, and Sandy.

Emergency Management Division personnel are currently on a campaign to make certain citizens have the proper identification in the event of a disaster or evacuation. The passes will provide you with the authorization to re-enter your area if you have been evacuated due to an emergency event. On Wednesday, August 13, the agency held a signup at the Alex Chatman Complex. Lula Mack was one of many who signed up. “We’re living in the 21st Century and a lot of things are happening now that didn’t happen when we were real young,” said the Greeleyville resident. “When someone like this agency is trying to help you that’s a good idea.”

The entire process takes about five minutes and citizens receive an information package with an explanation, contact information as well as information regarding 911 Compliance. College student D’Asia Green picked up her pass before heading off to school. “I just had to sign in and give them my name and address,” said the summer intern to Williamsburg County Supervisor Stanley Pasley. Some citizens consider the measure a government overreach.

Green sees the initiative as a goal to eliminate the problems associated with reentry after an emergency event. “I trust them because the people that we have in charge do a really good job and they’re very educated about what this is and they’re really good about educating us with the things that we need to know.”

Two passes are issued per household. The passes are good for four years. If you move you will have to turn in your pass and be re-issued a new one.

Out-of-state property owners can call the Emergency Management Division for details on how to get the pass at (843) 354-9330. The agency is implementing the Code Red telephone notification system and newspapers to advise the citizenry of Dash Pass issuing locations. Citizens can also stay in touch and receive up-to-date information through social media at any of the following:

•On Twitter @wcemd

•The Web at www.williamsburgcountyemd.org

•On Facebook at www.facebook.com/williamsburgcountyemd

•On Instagram at Instagram.com/wcemd

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