By Bryant Reed | September 16, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT – Updated September 16 at 7:30 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – With one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, the Wilmington Police Department (WPD) is ramping up its preparations by training with chainsaws.
The department’s mobile command post unit had 10 officers train Wednesday on how to properly use the power tool. It may not seem like much, but it can make a big difference when trying to clear roads of downed trees, effectively opening up the city to first responders and utility crews.
For instance, after Hurricane Florence more than one million cubic yards of debris had to be removed from the city, a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
Chief Donny Williams says storms like that taught them valuable lessons, one of them being the need to quickly aid in recovery efforts after a major storm. When Isaias hit, Williams says only a few people were properly trained to use chainsaws but this training will change all of that.
“During the storm, we were very limited for personnel,” said Chief Williams. “I know our guy from the fire department is qualified but he was unavailable to us during the storm so I was the only one who had that training in the police department and its very important that we get all members of our unit trained in it—and any additional officers that we can get out there to assist our public.”
The mobile command post unit is one of several groups within the department that helps in storm recovery. Once all the training is complete, WPD will have 15 officers that are ready to hit the ground running when the next major storm arrives.
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