Hurricane center: Beware of the storm surge Charleston County unveils new guide for upcoming hurricane season, which starts June 1

In this Aug. 30, 2012 file photo, residents evacuate their flooded neighborhood in LaPlace, La. as Hurricane Isaac staggered toward central Louisiana, its weakening winds driving storm surge into portions of the coast and the River Parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season. The outlook calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.

Eric Gay

June 1 marks the beginning of the 2013 hurricane season and Charleston County wants to make sure people are prepared.

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.

The county has prepared its new hurricane guide to help with that process. It can be found here.

“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 possible. Authorities also strongly encourage people 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.”

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 can check 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.

Information in the 2013 Charleston County Hurricane Preparedness Guide includes:

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

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 bridges

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