Hurricane evacuations now ordered by zones based on flooding maps
The governor, it turns out, is experienced at hurricane evacuation: Nikki Haley had to move her wedding from Hilton Head to Columbia ahead of Hurricane Fran.
“Planning is key,” Haley said, recalling the 1996 nuptials shift.
Haley, state and local officials gathered Friday for what has become the traditional South Carolina kick-off to hurricane season: the governor's press conferences in coastal Beaufort, Charleston and Horry counties.
“We are ready,” Haley told media at the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center. “What we want is to make sure the people of South Carolina are ready.”
The message has a new emphasis this year. Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties now each have at least three evacuation “zones” based on storm and riverine surge, or flooding threat. An evacuation may be called for specific zones rather than the county overall, depending on the storm.
Know your zone and make preparations, officials said.
“We have seen (with new flood mapping) we're going to have more inundation from storm surge” than previously thought, said Mario Formisano, Dorchester County emergency management director.
The key evacuation zone runs from the Charleston peninsula up to Ladson Road, taking in Daniel Island and portions of all three counties.
That zone would be included in any mandatory evacuation ordered, said Cathy Haynes, Charleston County emergency management chief.
Evacuations now will be called by governor's order; voluntary evacuations will no longer be called.
The new system could limit some evacuation orders to people living more directly in surge or flood prone areas; officials stressed that people who don't live in those zones also should evacuate if they are in low-lying areas, manufactured homes or feel they are in jeopardy.
“I would not discourage anyone from evacuating if they feel they need to for their personal safety,” said Tom Smith, Berkeley County emergency preparedness director.
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