Ready or not, here it comes | Hurricane season

by | June 7, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Officials of the Colleton County Emergency Operations Center relocated to Edisto Beach June 4 to lay the groundwork in case Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian or any other of the 17 names on the 2019 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone list.
Hurricane Season began on June 1 and ends on November 30.
The National Hurricane Center has predicted that the Atlantic Basin of the United States will experience an average hurricane season this year with between 9 and 15 named storms, between 4 and 8 hurricanes, and between 2 and 4 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
However, the National Weather Service reminds us that, “It only takes one storm to strike your area to make it a bad season!”
As weather normally follows patterns, it is important to note that the Lowcountry area has experienced two major storms in the last six decades.
The first was Hurricane Hugo in 1989 (30 years ago) and the second was Hurricane Gracie in 1959 (60 years ago).
Despite these facts, residents should not use weather patterns or predictions to guide their level of preparedness.  They should be prepared each and every year in the event a storm impacts Colleton County.
To address the county’s level of preparedness, the Colleton County Emergency Operations has conducted several training exercises in the months leading up to the start of hurricane season.
On June 3, the Emergency Operations Center was the scene of another training session. Then on June 4, operations center personnel traveled to Edisto Beach to meet with the town’s safety forces and other municipal officials to conduct a tabletop simulation of all the preparations that have to be made when a hurricane is headed toward a landfall at Edisto Beach.
The training simulating the approach of a major hurricane is important, Colleton County Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief David Greene said, “because it takes time and staffing to accomplish the tasks.” Greene oversees the operation of the emergency operations center.
As a hurricane approaches landfall in the Edisto Beach area, town officials have to move quickly to go door-to-door to every household to stress the need to evacuate.
Once an evacuation has been designated, Greene added, officials have to take the steps required to shut down the town’s water plant and sanitary sewer treatment facility.
Taking care of all the facets of preparing for the approach of a hurricane or tropic storm can overwhelm local officials, and they need to be able to work with county and state safety forces and other agencies to prepare.
Emergency planning officials suggest residents need to fine-tune their response to a hurricane or tropical storm.

Evacuations
First, you should know your zone.  Evacuations are normally ordered by evacuation zone and Colleton County has two evacuation zones (Zone A and Zone B).
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, White Hall areas (between the CSX railroad and Ace Basin Parkway / U.S. Highway 17), the Bonnie Doone and Maybank/Prices Bridge communities.
Zone B consists of areas south of Cottageville Hwy (U.S. 17-Alternate) from the Dorchester County line to Walterboro, south of South Jefferies Blvd, and east of Interstate 95 to the Hampton County line and includes anyone living along the Combahee, Ashepoo and Edisto Rivers that are subject to be inaccessible due to storm surge flooding.
Know your zone, make plans to evacuate should zones in Colleton County be ordered to evacuate and consider what transportation you would use to travel to shelter.
If you are unsure of your home’s location, you can go to the following website from any computer or smartphone: www.scemd.org/knowyourzone.  In the top left corner of the map, there is a place to type your address and the map will display your home’s location.  If it does not appear in an area shaded yellow or red, then you are not in an evacuation zone.
Additionally, you can download the SCEMD app for your smartphone.  The app has a number of useful tools that can help you identify if you live in an evacuation zone and can help you build an emergency evacuation plan.  Apps are available from the SCEMD website at the following URL: https://www.scemd.org/stay-informed/mobile-applications/
If you live in an evacuation zone or in a mobile home, you should begin making 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 at Colleton County High School (150 Cougar Nation Drive, Walterboro), if an evacuation is ordered by the governor.  The public shelter lacks many of the comforts of home and even cots and blankets may not be available until after the storm passes.

Build a Family
Emergency Kit
Consider building a family emergency kit with items that you may need in an emergency or evacuation.  Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as suitcases, duffle bags, or covered storage containers.  A list of materials to put in your emergency kit is available at the following URL: https://www.scemd.org/prepare/your-emergency-plan/family-disaster-plan/family-emergency-kit/

Sandbags and Tarps
Sandbags are normally available from Colleton County Fire-Rescue Headquarters/Colleton County Public Works (113 Mable T. Willis Blvd.) ONLY when a state of emergency has been declared by the governor or by County Council.  Salvage covers (tarps) may be available at the same location after an impact for citizens that need them.

Preparing your Pets for Emergencies
Our pets are important members of our families and it is important to include them in our disaster preparation plans.  For more information visit: https://www.scemd.org/prepare/your-emergency-plan/pet-planning/

Citizens with Functional Needs
You should also consider special preparations for family members with functional needs.  For more information visit: https://www.scemd.org/prepare/your-emergency-plan/family-disaster-plan/citizens-with-functional-needs/

Business Emergency Planning, Reentry
Every business should have a business continuity plan.  Businesses should plan in advance to handle any emergency and have available resources to take care of its employees and business operations in the event of an emergency.
The governor of South Carolina has approved into law a new measure that provides a system for post-disaster reentry certification for businesses and organizations that assist in the restoration of utilities and other services.  The S.C. Department of Commerce coordinates the post-disaster reentry certification program.  For more information, visit: https://www.scemd.org/recover/get-help/business-reentry/

Additional Questions
Colleton County Fire-Rescue and its Emergency Support Function partners have worked diligently to ensure that Colleton County is better prepared for this year’s hurricane season than ever before.
Anyone with questions, may visit Colleton County Fire-Rescue’s Emergency Management Division webpage at www.colletonfire.com/em and monitor www.colletonfire.com or @colletonfire on Twitter.
They can also call the Emergency Operations Center at 843-549-5632.

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