Jun 02 2014

Preparing for the 2014 Hurricane Season

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is upon us.

Hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30. Edisto has lucked out time and time again and not experienced any major storms, but there is always a threat.

While no one knows what the season will bring, Colorado State University’s forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach predict there will be nine named storms along with three hurricanes this year. The forecasters also predict that at least one of the hurricanes will be major.

So, what’s that mean for those living in and visiting Edisto? The short answer is this: Be prepared. There’s nothing anyone can do to prevent a hurricane from happening, but if one does, preparation is the key to safety.

To be fully prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms, check out the following information:

  • If a mandatory evacuation occurs, notice will be given well in advance of the storm. (Bear in mind that in most cases there are no refunds given to those who have to leave their vacation rentals early due to storms).
  • Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas so that you can evacuate without needing any extra stops.
  • Shelters are open to everyone, no matter where they live.
  • The evacuation routes off the island take residents and visitors to Walterboro and Augusta. Shelters are located all along the way.
  • Transportation can be arranged by calling 843-869-2505. If you know you will require assistance in the event of a hurricane, you can always call to pre-register.
  • Pets are not allowed on any of the buses that take residents and visitors to shelters. Make arrangements for your pets to be cared for in the event of a hurricane.
  • Those with special needs or handicaps can call 843-225-5080 to arrange for transportation.
  • All boats and RVs must be placed in storage before a storm. They are not allowed on roads or highways during a mandatory evacuation.

Think about what you’ll need in the event of a major storm and be sure to include the following:

  • Make sure you have photo identification and an electric bill on hand (you will need these items to return to the island and beach after a hurricane has passed and it is deemed safe to return)
  • 3-day supply of drinking water (usually one gallon per person per day)
  • 5-day supply of non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Medications
  • Flashlights, extra batteries
  • Chlorine bleach for water treatment
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Jumper cables
  • Manual can openers
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Toiletries
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Games, cards, books
  • Tune in to the radio for news regarding when it is safe to return to the island.

Facts about Hurricanes

Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which ranges from 1-5. Any storm that reaches category 3 is considered a major hurricane and can result in significant damage and loss of life. This doesn’t mean category 1 and 2 storms are not dangerous.

A category 1 storm can generate a storm surge that would cover the majority of Edisto with up to five feet of water during high tide. This means the only way on or off the island would be flooded. That said, government officials with Colleton and Charleston Counties will evacuate both the island and the beach in the event of a category 1 storm.

The McKinley Washington Bridge closes to high profile vehicles any time winds reach 35 mph or higher. The bridges closes to all traffic when sustained wind speed reaches 45 mph.

During a mandatory evacuation, all police, fire, and EMS personnel leave the island. Anyone who remains on the island during the storm will not receive emergency help.

A hurricane watch is generally issued 48 hours before landfall is expected. This is when visitors and residents should prepare to leave. Bear in mind there are no longer voluntary evacuations; all evacuations are mandatory. The South Carolina governor will order a mandatory evacuation 24 hours prior to landfall.

Be Prepared, Be Safe

The best thing to do in the event of a hurricane is to remember that early preparation makes evacuating that much easier. Store your hurricane supplies in an area where they are easily accessible. Remember that even though Edisto has been lucky in recent history, a devastating storm can always happen, so be prepared – and hope that you’ll never have to experience a hurricane.

Bob Hart Author

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