In October of 2020, DHEC was selected as a recipient of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for environmental justice projects that benefit low-income and minority communities in South Carolina.
Through the State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program, EPA is providing grants over a two-year period to work collaboratively with environmental justice communities to understand, promote and integrate approaches that provide meaningful and measurable improvements to public health and the environment.
DHEC will use its $200,000 grant to develop a Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) training program in eight underserved communities in the North Charleston area that will help these neighborhoods better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters like hurricanes, flooding, chemical releases and pandemics.
Participants from the eight selected neighborhoods -- Accabee, Chicora/Cherokee, Union Heights, Howard Heights, Windsor Place, Five Mile, Rosemont, and Liberty Hill -- as well as other EJ communities throughout the state, will attend in-person and virtual training sessions centered on disaster preparation and recovery. Participants will complete assignments that demonstrate their training in how to best address various scenarios caused during emergencies, including unhealthy home conditions, food insecurities, and energy or weatherization issues. Community disaster drills and exercises will also be part of the CMDRR training program. The program has been dubbed "EJ Strong."
EJ Strong Workshops
The first three, free-of-cost trainings will be for 2-days each. The 4th training will be for one day and will be a Train-the-Trainer Workshop. All 2-day trainings will be held on a Friday - Saturday combination. The first Training will be held on Friday, June 25 – Saturday, June 26, 2021. The other workshops will be held in January, June, and September 2022. Participation in the series is free but requires a firm commitment to attend all the sessions. Enrollment is limited to help foster an interactive learning experience.
Our partners: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities, Clemson: College of Behavioral Social Social Sciences, College of Charleston: Center for Coastal Environmental & Human Health, U of SC: Arnold School of Public Health.
June 25 - 26, 2021
Roughly 30 community leaders who live or work in overburdened communities within South Carolina participated in the first EJ Strong workshop on June 25 and 26. "Environmental Justice (EJ) Strong: Strengthening Communities for Disaster Risk Reduction, Response, & Recovery in SC" is an innovative, hands-on training currently being used in the Philippines and other areas where natural disasters take place often. This Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction program is the first time this training is being offered in the USA. A total of 4 free workshops will be held. SC DHEC; EPA; LAMC, a non-profit organization in North Charleston; U of SC; College of Charleston; and Clemson are collaborating partners for these trainings.