Residents urged to prepare for above average hurricane season
June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season and with predictions of higher than normal activity, the Berkeley County Emergency Disaster Preparedness (BCEDP) office is taking extra steps to ensure the safety of those in the area.
“We continually improve our preparedness and readiness by reviewing and updating emergency operations plans, ensuring all county essential personnel know and train in their critical areas of need for their department’s missions and improve our ability to respond and recover from any disasters that effect Berkeley County,” explained Director of the Berkeley County Emergency Services Division Daniel Barb.
During a press conference in May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the 2017 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, has the probability of seeing more storms than usual. In fact, according to a recent press release from Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Charleston, owned by Daniel Island residents Larry and Diane Rice, there are approximately 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes near historical averages predicted by forecasters for this year’s hurricane season. The company is a leading provider of fire and water damage clean-up and restoration services for residential and commercial properties, stated the release.
“These storms can do a tremendous amount of damage from high winds and devastating floods, along with destruction,” noted Larry Rice.
After Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina last year, there were necessary changes to be made to preparations, added Barb.
“Lessons learned from Matthew brought to light several areas for improvements, [such as] informing the public,” he said. “Even though we were well prepared with press releases and communicating vital information to the public, we found ourselves up against social media where misinterpretations of actual conditions, road closures and shelter availability was not as accurate as reported.”
In response to this issue, the BCEDP created a Facebook page for the community to post photos of damage from the storm and to “relay additional information consistent with press releases,” according to Barb.
He added that the BCEDP has also built a stronger relationship with the Red Cross, who in turn have bettered their preparations and readiness for shelter operations.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Daniel Island last year, it did little damage. But according to Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association (POA), there are still precautions to be taken.
“Our office updates our emergency management plan annually to ensure that property owner data, Daniel Island physical assets, and contractor resources are in order,” said Baker. “We have protocols for preparedness and recovery efforts as well as pre-positioned contractor resources to assist in recovery phases.”
She continued, “We are in regular communication with City and Berkeley County officials in advance of storm-related events and try to properly educate property owners with safety information to prepare their properties and their families for storm-related events and potential evacuations.”
Although steps are being taken to ensure that the area is better equipped for an emergency this season, Barb emphasized that being prepared also comes down to the residents.
“The single most important part is for each citizen to be prepared and know what to do before a storm threatens our community,” said Barb. “This includes knowing what ‘zone’ you live in for purposes of evacuations, knowing the first-floor elevation of your residence and whether your home would be affected by rises in water levels caused by storm surges, having a plan for evacuation that includes your pets, knowing evacuation routes and shelter locations, knowing what you will be taking with you if you choose to evacuate and staying informed by watching weather forecasts and predictions.”
Rice added that residents should make sure that their homes and businesses meet building codes for withstanding storm and hurricane force winds, put together a Basic Emergency Kit that includes proper tools, supplies and a first aid kit, and be sure to have enough fuel and water for each family member for several days.
Both Baker and Barb emphasized the importance of heeding a call for evacuation.
“The most important thing for property owners to know is that when the Governor of South Carolina calls for a coastal evacuation, residents need to leave Daniel Island,” said Baker. “Storms that seem small a few days out are often unpredictable and safety should be the paramount objective over inconvenience.”
“If you choose to evacuate, don’t wait until the last minute,” added Barb. “Evacuate early enough to avoid getting stuck in traffic. If you stay in your home, be prepared to be without electricity and running water for long periods of time. Prepare now, not when a storm is knocking on our door.”
To make being informed and prepared easier on residents, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division releases a revised hurricane preparedness guide every year, which Barb urged should be in every home.
The guide is available at libraries, Berkeley County’s Emergency Operations Center or online at http://www.scemd.org/component/content/article/26-guides-and-brochures/1....
The following hurricane/storm preparedness tips were provided by Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Charleston.
Storm season preparation:
• Enter the season prepared; put together a plan for evacuation and go over it with family and co-workers.
• Know your evacuation routes.
• Make sure your home or business meets building codes for withstanding storm and hurricane force winds.
• Put together a Basic Emergency Kit to include proper tools, supplies and a first aid kit.
• Have plenty of batteries and flashlights and at least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable foods on hand.
When a storm watch or warning is issued:
• Leave low lying areas.
• Protect windows with plywood boards or storm shutters.
• Secure outside objects.
• Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water for several days and for each family member.
• Evacuate if instructed to leave the area.
What to do before the storm:
• Be ready to put your plan and preparation to action.
• Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, TV or the Internet.
• Have the house boarded up or have storm shutters in place.
• Make sure all your tools, supplies, first aid, food, fuel and personal items are ready for use.
• Have a secure room available.
What to do during the storm:
• Stay in a secure room and away from windows.
• Don’t use the telephone or candles.
• Monitor weather and civic service bulletins on either regular or NOAA weather radio.
• Have supplies on hand.
• Remain indoors when the eye of the storm moves over your area, the storm will resume shortly.
Safety tips after the storm:
• Make sure everyone is safe and accounted for.
• Monitor the radio for information from emergency management officials in your area.
• Before venturing outside, ensure the storm has completely passed.
• Report downed power lines and stay away from them.
• Use stored water and food.
• Be patient until your environment is safe and back to normal.