Coastal officials are hoping that residents have not become complacent about the threat of hurricanes.
It may be a busy storm year, according to the National Weather Service. Since it’s been 20 years since Hurricane Hugo slammed into South Carolina, there are many new residents and retirees who have not experienced the 80-plus mph winds, storm surges, flooding or tornadoes that come with a major storm.
As many as six major hurricanes are predicted for the season, which begins this week and this year, the governor will only issue a mandatory evacuation order.
Georgetown County officials are reaching out to rural areas, offering five workshops in different parts of the region [schedule at the bottom of this story] to update residents about new routes and procedures.
Hurricane Hugo actually tore one end of Pawleys Island in half, creating a new channel through the popular tourist destination.
County spokesperson Jackie Broach says their workshops are intended for people throughout the region, including those far off of the coast.
“We especially want our new residents to come to this…though we all who have lived here all of our lives may be a little out of practice,” Broach says.
“They really need to be aware that flooding from hurricanes is a danger far off the coast, miles off the coast. Tornadoes are not limited to areas on the coast, but further inland from Georgetown County–Florence County, Marion County,” she warns.
Charleston County Emergency Management Director Cathy Haynes agrees.
“There’s probably not a whole lot of people who live in the tri-county area that was here in 1989 when Hugo hit. So, we understand that there’s a lot of the population that’s never even been through a hurricane.”
The Emergency Management Division directors of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties work together in handling threats and disasters. They held a press conference last week to reminded residents of the new evacuation procedures and routes.
In a major storm, it takes 30-plus hours to evacuate Charleston County, just Charleston County,” Haynes says.
Like their grand strand counterparts, Haynes and the tri-county are asking residents to have a plan in place for evacuation, learn the routes now and to take the warnings very seriously when they are issued.
If a resident waits too long, Haynes’ advice is tougher: “They will be instructed on how to hunker down where they are, give them some advice on what they need and just sit there and wait out the storm because there is no way to send anybody out to get them.”
The workshops for Georgetown County begin at 6 p.m. and last about an hour.
• June 3 — Beck Recreation Center, 2030 Church St., Georgetown
• June 4 — Murrells Inlet Community Center, 4450 Murrells Inlet Road
• June 5 — Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center, 83 Duncan Ave., Pawleys Island
• June 6 — North Santee Community Center, 1484 Mt. Zion Ave., Georgetown
• June 7 — Plantersville Community Center, 1458 Exodus Dr., Georgetown
-Sheree Berdardi, WTMA in Charleston, contributed to this story.