Preparing for hurricane season: Changes in county’s plans

by | June 7, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 6, 2018 at 10:10 am

Emergency Operations plan completely
revised, new shelters chosen.

Colleton County’s preparations for the hurricane season contain two changes that focus on providing emergency shelter.
“We’ve just completed a total revision of the county’s Emergency Operations Plan with the assistance of a myriad of municipal, county and state agencies,” said Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief David Greene.
Operation of the county’s emergency management operations have been taken over by Colleton County Fire-Rescue. The name has been changed to Fire-Rescue Emergency Management Division, and Greene has been designated the county’s emergency manager.
The primary shelter has been moved from Colleton County Middle School to Colleton County High School at 150 Cougar Nation Dr. in Walterboro.
Greene explains that the high school offers a larger capacity, has a backup generator available and is protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system.
“We appreciate the cooperation and assistance of the Colleton County School District (Kenny Blakeney and Cliff Warren), the Colleton County Department of Social Services (Audrey Brown, director) and the American Red Cross (Kristopher Barnette) in moving the primary shelter to a more modern and safer facility,” Greene said.
Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy said that the Red Cross and local DSS office staff the emergency shelter.
The Red Cross, he added, worked with Kenny Blakeney to pre-position some cots and other materials at the high school.
McRoy said the Emergency Management Division makes the call on opening the shelter, and that decision “is typically triggered by governor’s evacuation order.” The shelter could also opened, he added, if there is a special need in county, such as an ice storm.
Another change has been the addition of Bells Elementary School as another potential shelter.
Greene, who last week attended a statewide planning session in Columbia and Gov. Henry McMaster’s tour of the coast to bring public attention to the beginning of hurricane season, said most forecasters are predicting a similar to slightly busier season when compared to last year. The outlook, according to National Weather Service, predicts the United States could see 10-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 1-4 major hurricanes.
Being a coastal county, it is important to know if you live in an evacuation zone, Greene said. There are two in Colleton County:
• Zone A consists of anyone living south of the CSX railroad tracks in the southern portion of Colleton County and includes the communities of Edisto Beach/Island, Jacksonboro, Green Pond, Bennetts Point, Wiggins, the White Hall area (between the CSX railroad and ACE Basin Parkway/U.S. Highway 17), and the Bonnie Doone and Maybank/Prices Bridge communities.
• Zone B consists of areas south of Cottageville Highway (U.S. 17A) from the Dorchester County line to Walterboro, south of South Jefferies Boulevard and west of Interstate 95 to the Hampton County line, including those who live in areas along the Combahee, Ashepoo and Edisto Rivers that are subject to being inaccessible due to storm surge flooding.
Those who are unsure if they live in an evacuation zone can go to www.scemd.org/knowyourzone, type in their address and the map will display their home’s location relative to the evacuation zones.
“We are encouraging residents to prepare now, to learn what the routes are. You don’t want to wait until the day before the event to make plans,” McRoy said.
The downloadable SCEMD app for Android and iPhone (links to the app at www.scemd.org ), which will show a location relative to the evacuation zones. Or residents can call the county’s Emergency Operations Center at 843-549-5632, and give them an address to find out if a house is in an evacuation zone.
Those live in an evacuation zone or in a mobile home should make plans to stay with a family member or friend outside of the evacuation zones. As a last resort and if those options are unavailable, a shelter will be opened if an evacuation is ordered by the governor. However, the public shelters lack many of the comforts of home, and even cots and blankets may not be available until after the storm passes.
Make plans to evacuate now so that they can be easily executed should the governor order an evacuation. Build an emergency kit to have on hand to easily deploy should the need to evacuate occur.
The SCEMD app provides a checklist to help you build an emergency kit.
Consider purchasing home insurance and its contents (including flood insurance, which is normally a separate policy if you live in a flood prone area.) Although FEMA offers some individual assistance for areas impacted by hurricanes, the reimbursements are generally limited and are not sufficient to replace your home and its contents.
Visit www.colletonfire.com/em for a wealth of information on hurricanes and other hazards and monitor that website, as well as a Fire-Rescue’s social media feeds for additional information and for information during emergencies (www.twitter.com/colletonfire and https://www.facebook.com/Colletoncountyfire/?ref=bookmarks )

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