Imagine the scenario: A storm is coming and Gov. Nikki Haley has called for an evacuation of the state's coastal areas. All routes inland are slow-moving or gridlocked. You see that wall of bumper-to-bumper cars on U.S. 278, and you think "Maybe we'd be better off hunkering down at home."
Less than 24 hours later, though, you will almost certainly find yourself wondering why you chose to ignore the hurricane warnings and evacuation order â€" assuming you're lucky, that is. When a storm produces winds over 74 mph and there is a river of water rushing through the streets, it's simply too late to change your mind.
Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a slower than average hurricane season this year, it's important to be prepared, say experts.
"Now is the time to start thinking ahead of the season. ... Get ready before the bad events are coming down on you," Kathryn Sullivan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday when announcing the year's predictions.
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Hurricane season begins Monday, and coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one storm to wreak havoc.
Beaufort County Emergency Management advises that all residents be alert and prepared in order to avoid a similar situation. Beaufort County Emergency Management Director Lt. Col. Neil Baxley recommends having an evacuation route planned in advance, particularly somewhere out of reach of the storm with adequate shelter, food and activities to pass the time.
"The evacuee could easily be in that location for a week or more depending on the severity of the storm," he said.
Emergency management does not recommend that anyone stays when the governor orders an evacuation.
Baxley said that once tropical storm force winds arrive, first responders are no longer available.
"(They) are pulled off of the roadways when 39 mph winds arrive over Beaufort County," Baxley said.
In preparation, emergency management also recommends that you create a supplies kit filled with extra batteries, plenty of drinking water, non-perishable packaged or canned food, a non-electric can opener, extra prescription medications and medical supplies, a battery-powered radio and flashlight.
You should also fill your car with gas, board the windows on your home or protect them with storm shutters and secure all loose items in your yard.