Haley: Business preparedness key during hurricane season

Thousands of residents forced out by a mandatory evacuation order sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 26 near Charleston on Sept. 14, 1999, as they try to move west away from the path of approaching Hurricane Floyd.

South Carolina is placing a new emphasis this hurricane season on business preparedness.

“This year we really have tried to look at the economy. It is not just about families anymore,” Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday.

Getting people back to work is key to hurricane recovery as well as the re-opening of banks, groceries and big-box retailers, Haley said.

The State Emergency Management Division will urge businesses to have adequate insurance for hurricane wind and water damage. Employers are being asked to talk with workers about what to expect if an evacuation is necessary, she said.

“What are the shift changes that would happen? How would they close down their manufacturing lines? How would they open them back up?

“All of these things need to be accounted for and so what we want everyone to know is this is a time of planning, this is a time to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to,” Haley said.

She spoke in North Charleston during her annual hurricane preparedness tour. Emergency management officials from Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties joined her.

Residents need to know their evacuation route and have a plan to care for children, the elderly and pets. Advance preparation includes gathering essential documents and having adequate supplies is important, she said.

“It is that time again but we don’t want it to be something people get used to. We want it to be something where we really get our families to understand it is hurricane season,” she said.

Monday marks the beginning of the hurricane season.

The new state hurricane guide that includes evacuation routes will be available Sunday in the Post and Courier, as well as at the state EMD website.

Capt. Rob Woods, emergency management coordinator for the state Department of Public Safety, said the DPS and state Department of Transportation began preparations in January.

“As we finalize our plans we ask the public to do the same in particular as it pertains to evacuations,” he said. Ensure that you know your route and that you have a destination in plan, he said.

Dick Jenkins, state traffic management engineer, said if an evacuation is ordered traffic flow on the interstate and other roads would be reversed immediately so that all lanes would be for vehicles leaving the area.

“Of course, we will monitor all of this very closely to make this the best ride that we can,” he said.

Haley said South Carolina has many newer residents who have never been through a major hurricane so it is important for them to learn about evacuation routes and what supplies they need to be prepared.

“What we have looked at is the changes in population, the changes in sea level and we have expanded our capacities in terms of shelters,” she said.

There has also been an emphasis on transportation needs, she said.