THE LOWCOUNTRY PREPS FOR ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON
BY HILTON HEAD MONTHLY
The Lowcountry is prepping for Atlantic hurricane season, which runs until Nov. 30, with the heaviest months usually in August through October.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that we will see between 14 and 21 named storms this year. They say three to six of those storms could be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher with winds of 111 mph or higher.
The NOAA predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
To help the state prepare, the South Carolina Emergency Division has an informative website: hurricane.sc. The site is an online guide to hurricane season resources.
Said Stephen Combs, Bluffton’s emergency manager: “Since the impacts of Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, the state overall has learned many lessons, but our area specifically has firsthand experience with property damage and the corresponding impacts to our local economy. It is important residents plan now for the possibility of a hurricane making landfall in or near our area.”
Residents should give themselves enough time to prepare for a hurricane; make sure everyone in the household knows the family’s hurricane plan; and know where you will go once an evacuation order has been issued. Here are some tips to stay safe.
- Know your evacuation zone. Evacuations are announced by designated zones. View the map found on the S.C. Emergency Management Division website (scemd.org), and identify your hurricane evacuation zone and routes. Do not rely on your GPS or seek shortcuts, which may be blocked off or unsafe.
- Make an emergency plan with your family. Ensure everyone knows what to do.
- Have an emergency kit, which should include a minimum of three days of non-perishable food, drinking water, first aid supplies, flashlight with extra batteries, medications, important documents and cash and credit cards.
- Place in a watertight container your ID cards, bank information, copies of insurance policies, emergency contact information, pet medical records, medications, doctor contact information and instructions on how to operate any medical equipment you use. Don’t forget to put an ID tag on your pet. If possible, put important identification and medical records into a digital format for easy safekeeping and quicker movement.
- Include personal hygiene and sanitation items such as wet wipes, antibacterial cleaning products, hand sanitizer, towels, trash bags, dust masks, feminine supplies and an extra change of clothes for each person in the household.
- Keep extra items on hand for children: crayons, paper, books, puzzles.
- If you are disabled contact your local government’s emergency information management office. Many local officials create contact lists of disabled residents to be able to check on them and provide help in a sudden emergency.
- If you are on dialysis or another life-sustaining treatment identify a few locations available for treatment. Leave an extra key to your home with a trusted person so they can check on you.
- If your medical device needs electricity, ask your healthcare provider or doctor what you should do if there is a power outage. Wear a medical bracelet.
- Conduct inspections of drainage features around your house and property including gutters and remove any blockages.
- Turn off irrigation systems.
- If you decide to stay during an evacuation order, emergency services may be suspended due to unsafe weather conditions. If you choose to ignore a mandatory evacuation order, be prepared to be self-sufficient during, and for the first 72 hours after, a storm, the town of Bluffton said. High winds during storms prohibit travel of emergency response vehicles and debris following storms may also prevent travel.
IF YOU EVACUATE
- Turn off gas, electricity and water.
- Charge your cell phone and mobile devices, and have extra chargers.
- Prepare your vehicle by getting an inspection and checking your oil and tire pressure before you get on the road. Keep your gas tank full in the days before an evacuation.
- Carry emergency items including a spare tire, tool kit, emergency flares, towels, gloves and jumper cables.
- Know where you will go. Stay with family, friends or a hotel far inland. If those options are not available, the S.C. Department of Social Services and the American Red Cross will provide a safe place.
- The SC Emergency Manager mobile app, scemd.org, and road signs will have real-time information on all open shelters nearest to your evacuation route.
- You can text “shelter” and your ZIP code to 43362 to get a list of nearby shelter locations.
- If you need transportation to a shelter prior to a storm, call Palmetto Breeze at 843-757-5782.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE HURRICANE
- Return home only after it is declared safe.
- Check gas, water, electrical lines and appliances for damage.
- Use a flashlight to inspect damage.
- Take pictures of damage, which will help in filing insurance claims.
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Don’t ever swim, drive or walk through flood waters.
- Do not touch downed power lines or tree limbs touching power lines.
- If you smell gas, leave your home and call the power company.
- As soon as it is safe, contact your friends and family through texts and/ or social media to let them know if you need help or that you are OK.
- Evacuate with your pet outside of the evacuation zone.
- Have a cage/carrier for each pet; a means of containment will be needed anywhere you go.
- Counties may have a temporary emergency shelter for pets. The South Carolina Emergency Manager mobile app and scemd.org will list open shelters.
- Consider boarding facilities, veterinary clinics, pet-friendly hotels, as well as homes of friends and relatives.
- Have photos of yourself with your animals to prove ownership if you become separated.
- Information about options for assistance with animals will be provided as soon as possible from SCEMD by way of news briefings and telephone hotlines.
HURRICANE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU STAY SAFE
TOWN OF HILTON HEAD HURRICANE CENTER
TOWN OF BLUFFTON
BEAUFORT COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
BEAUFORT COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE NIXLE ALERTS
CDC HURRICANE PREP
NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER
S.C. Department of Insurance
doi.sc.gov • 803-737-6160 • 803-768-3467