At a press conference Friday at the Beaufort County Law Enforcement Center, Gov. Nikki Haley said she and fellow state officials have done all they can to prepare for this year's hurricane season.
Now, she says, it's up to her constituents to do the same.
"We need the people to be responsible," Haley said. "You have to be ready to go; you have to make sure that you're prepared. We can only do so much for you."
One key policy change this hurricane season, Haley said, is the end of voluntary evacuation orders. Instead, all of the state's evacuation orders will be mandatory.
"We found that it actually promoted complacency," Haley explained. "When we tell you that it's time to go, it is time to go. We're going to be serious about it."
Haley said it's imperative to know official evacuation routes, have emergency clothes and supplies already packed, and establish a safe place to stay.
"We do have 250 shelters across the state that will be set up, but these are not luxury hotels," Haley said. "These are not places you want to stay. They are a roof over your head, and that's it."
She added that her message is all the more urgent because of strong storms that have already broached South Carolina's coast this year.
"We've already seen two named storms prior to June 1, and we are expecting to have about 10 named storms, two to three of which could be serious," she said.
Dick Jenkins of the S.C. Department of Transportation said residents need to follow the signs and directions along evacuation routes.
"We've got three major routes that lead out of the Beaufort County area," Jenkins said. "Those routes will be aggressively managed. But you'll need to exercise some patience, and sometimes in these situations that isn't easy to come by."
Haley also vowed to investigate the findings of a recent study indicating South Carolina homeowners are overpaying for their insurance premiums because of an overstatement of the state's risk for hurricane damage. A group that includes Beaufort County business people wrote Haley about the matter and plan to meet with her staff next week.
"I actually worked on the insurance committee when we did the coastal insurance reform a few years ago, and we made a lot of progress," she said of her time as a state legislator.
"But I think it's something that we have to continue to look at, so you're going to see us continue to work on that over the summer and try to engage the General Assembly with it in January."
- Beaufort County business leaders write Haley to try to lower home insurance rates, June 7, 2012
- Island Packet hurricane section