By Pamela Brownstein
In the event of a disaster, Beaufort County officials are committed to keeping you safe. Members of the Beaufort County Emergency Management Division have been meeting and plotting and planning for months to provide comprehensive short-term and long-term strategies designed to minimize property damage, restore the area and bring back citizens.
In return, county officials are urging residents to do their part and be prepared in case a storm hits.
According to Todd Ferguson, director of emergency management, just because Beaufort County hasn’t seen a hurricane in years doesn’t mean that people should become complacent.
“We need to all prepare for the one storm that will get us one day,” Ferguson said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year with 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
With natural disasters wreaking havoc in the United States and across the world recently, now is not the time to take a wait-and-see approach. County officials recommend having a home evacuation plan, the proper papers up-to-date (which includes knowing whether you have flood insurance or not and understanding how your mortgage company handles loss) and a recovery plan in place.
John McFee, the Beaufort County disaster recovery director, emphasized businesses should also have a plan because it is “vitally important” for businesses to come back after a disaster.
The county’s team has all its bases covered in case Gov. Haley issues a hurricane warning. From the safe removal of all the animals from the shelter to the removal of debris, the people under William Winn at the emergency operations center know their roles and what they need to do. And they encourage the public to do the same and be ready.
Hurricane Season 2011
How to stay informed
• Beaufort County Emergency Management Division: 843-255-4000
• Beaufort County Hurricane Hotline for re-entry: 1-800-93-5023
• SC DOT Traffic information: 1-888-877-9151
• TV broadcasts will be through the County Channel
• Radio broadcasts will be through Adventure Radio and WYKZ
• For information online visit www.bcgov.net, www.scemd.org, www.wcsc.com, or www.beaufortcountydisasterrecovery.net.
Northern Beaufort County Evacuation Routes:
The Beaufort area will evacuate exclusively along U.S. 21 to U.S. 17. Approaching the U.S. 17 intersection with Gardens Corner, the left lane of U.S. 21 will have access to U.S. 17 South and will be directed to Exit 33 (Point South) where motorists will be directed to use the right lane to access I-95 North and the left lane to access I-95 South. The right lane will follow U.S. 17 North to Highway 303 toward Walterboro. Also, motorists wishing to travel towards the Hampton or Augusta area may turn right off U.S. 17 at Pocataligo onto U.S. 21 North to Yemassee an S.C. 68 West.