Randy Webster just finished his 30th year with Horry County Government.
There won’t be a 31st.
The county’s director of emergency management on Monday confirmed he will be retiring July 31 to take a job with a private organization.
“I’ve always prided myself on getting it done and getting it done right and building this program,” he said. “Overall, it’s been good to me and I feel like I’ve contributed to this community.”
Webster, who turns 55 on Wednesday, declined to say where his next stop will be, noting that his future employer wants to make that announcement. He did say he will remain in the area.
“It’s not like I’m changing careers,” he said. “Just changing locations and reducing responsibility tremendously. … [It’s] a new chapter doing the same work in a different way.”
Webster began working for the county as a paramedic on May 6, 1989 — just a few months before Hurricane Hugo blasted the Grand Strand. He worked his way up to emergency management director in 2003, and in that position he shepherded the county through the flood of 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence last fall.
Webster said there’s no complicated reason behind his three-decade tenure with the county.
“To me, it was simple,” he said. “There’s been ups and downs like a rollercoaster. For me, it’s been an excellent organization to work for. I have grown so much as an individual and as a professional all because I’ve been allowed to. I’ve always told new people when they come in, ‘You know, you get out of it what you put into it.’ And I’ve put a lot into this over the years.”
As emergency management director, Webster became the point person during disasters, coordinating operations with local, state and federal officials. He has served as a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hurricane Liaison Team and on various panels, including the South Carolina Hurricane Task Force and the Pee Dee Regional Counter Terrorism Coordinating Council.
In 2016, he was named the state’s emergency management director of the year.
“This will be a great loss for the county, but I am confident that his staff is trained and prepared to react as necessary,” interim county administrator Steve Gosnell wrote in a Monday email to county officials. “We will begin taking steps to advertise the Emergency Preparedness Director position.”
Earlier this year, some county council members mentioned Webster as a candidate for interim administrator. Although he was grateful for the consideration, Webster said that job was never something he wanted to do long term.
“It’s just not me,” he said.
When asked if dealing with three major floods in four years influenced his decision to leave, Webster said the demands of the job did affect him.
“I’ll be honest with you, yes and no,” he said. “I’m not worried about, ‘Are we going to get hit by another big one?’. I have all the confidence in the world in the team. … But if you take a reflection back on 30 years with an organization, sometimes it may be best just to let it go in another direction. I’ve been in public safety for 36 years now total. It’s time.”