Gov. Nikki Haley wants coastal residents and business operators to begin planning now for a hurricane strike, saying it is never too early to assemble valuable papers or determine where to stay in the event of an evacuation.
During an appearance at the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center on Friday, Haley said many South Carolina families have plans in place for local household emergencies, but larger disasters also should be a priority. Plans should include asking friends and families this month if a family can come to stay later.
"You don't have to go stay in a hotel," she said, adding that a more dependable course would be to reach out to family in other locations with something like, "If this happens, can we come?"
The official Atlantic hurricane season began June 1. Forecasts this year predict that as many as 15 named storms will occur before the season ends in the late fall, including eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes of Category 3 or greater.
The governor said the state already has done some preparation work, including planning agency response from as far as five days before any evacuation order that may come.
"I am completely confident that our state is ready for any storm should it happen."
In the event of an imminent strike by a Category 2 storm or greater, the plan would trigger a lane-reversal evacuation plan for Interstate 26 toward the center part of the state, officials said Friday.
Highway Patrol Commander Kenny Lancaster advised that anyone evacuating should leave much earlier if they have young children or the elderly with them, and should bring a supply of non-perishable foods.
Haley said part of a family's planning should be to prepare for a period of possibly weeks away from home. "We have a beautiful coast that can become very dangerous at times, and we are going to be overly prepared," she said.
Haley took part in news conferences in Beaufort, North Charleston and Conway.