Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are you ready? - Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed

With hurricane season upon us, are you ready? For National Hurricane Preparedness Week, make sure you and your family are ready to handle any disaster that might confront the North Charleston area.

Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed.

The Charleston County Emergency Management Department wants residents to get their family’s emergency plan in place and put their emergency supply kit together prior to a storm. 

Now is the time to get ready, and it’s easy with the help of the new 2013 Charleston County Hurricane Guide.
“Charleston County Government is always preparing for a storm and working with other local and state agencies to do so, but everyone has an individual responsibility to get prepared and make sure their family has a plan,” said Cathy Haynes, Charleston County Emergency Management Department’s Chief of Operations. “Churches and civic groups can also help by printing the guide for those who do not have access to the Internet. Our entire community needs to help spread the word.”

In anticipation of an evacuation order, which can only be given by the governor, Haynes also reminds the public that they should plan to leave town if at all possible, and everyone along the coast is strongly encouraged to make travel arrangements well in advance.

“Because of the low-lying areas in our county, we will never have enough safe shelter space for all of Charleston County’s residents,” said Jason Patno, Charleston County Emergency Management Director. “Therefore, we encourage everyone who has the means to leave town to do so and to consider shelters only as a last resort when they have nowhere else to go.”

Also, those who have the ability to leave should do so as early as possible.

“You don’t have to wait until an evacuation order is issued,” Patno said. “If you can, leave as early as possible to make your trip easier and to help relieve the traffic congestion on our roads.”

Citizens who do not have transportation should learn where their nearest evacuation pick-up point is located. The evacuation pick-up points are noted by blue signs with a hurricane and bus symbol, and are located across the county at many CARTA bus stops and popular areas like schools, churches and shopping centers. In the event of an evacuation order, buses will transport citizens from the 79 pick-up points to the nearest available Red Cross shelter.

“It is vital for residents in our community who don’t have transportation to know where their nearest pick-up point is before the next hurricane approaches our coast,” Haynes said. “It takes all of us working together to make sure our citizens and neighbors are prepared and safe.”

The procedures for opening shelters changed last year for the 2012 hurricane season. Rather than having a list of shelters in advance, emergency shelters are now determined with the approach of a hurricane to South Carolina. In the event of a hurricane or other major disaster, residents are asked to monitor local media outlets for a current list of open shelters. During an evacuation, listen for emergency alerts on the radio and look for road signs for shelter information.

     What to have in your emergency supplies kit
     Evacuation information and routes out of Charleston County
     Shelter procedures
     What to do if you don’t have transportation – look for pick-up point signs posted around the county!
     Definitions and what you need to do during hurricane watches, warnings and tropical storms
     Rules to know and items to bring if you and your pet need to stay at the pet shelter
     Preparations for your home and your family before the storm
     High wind procedures for briges
     What to do after a storm, including safety measures and handling debris
     A family communications plan form to fill out
     Important phone numbers, including ones that will be activated in the event of an emergency

Do You Know Your Evacuation Zone?

Be prepared -- learn what evacuation zone you are in before a storm hits!

Know Your Zone is a public education campaign to inform the citizens and visitors South Carolina of the new hurricane evacuation zones and their vulnerability to storm surge. The campaign reflects the National Hurricane Center’s decision to separate the association of storm surge inundation from the category of storm.

The S.C. Emergency Management Department developed a webpage to provide information for residents and visitors along the entire South Carolina coast, and the Tri-County zones are available at: http://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/EmergencyMgmt/zones.htm.

The Tri-County zones were a collaborative effort between Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester to provide the public with a unified and consistent message, no matter where one lives in the region.

“Dorchester County has seen some of the most significant changes to their evacuation zones as result of more sophisticated storm surge data,” said Mario Formisano, Dorchester County Emergency Management Director. “The new data proves that you don’t have to live along the immediate coast to be at risk to storm surge.”

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