Need another reason to heed the evacuation order and leave the Lowcountry?
Consider this: If the weather gets bad enough, law enforcement, first responders and safety personnel will be forced to leave the county.
And then, truly, you’ll be on your own.
There’s a “retreat plan” – a contingency – for safety personnel who are currently preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. That plan calls for them to fall back to Allendale County if the storm’s intensity – and the storm surges that accompany it – renders them unable to “fight the fight,” according to Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.
“You can’t fight Mother Nature,” Tanner said Thursday afternoon. “You have to watch Mother Nature. And Mother Nature will tell you what to do.”
The speed of Matthew and its intensity when it hits the county will factor into the decision to retreat, Tanner said, declining to elaborate on further specifics of the plan. The goal is to move safety personnel a safe distance away, but keep them close enough to quickly respond after the storm.
And if you’re waiting till the last moment to leave, Tanner said, remember that your evacuation options will be limited – meaning you’ll be forced to travel the same route as safety personnel.
Sometimes there are problems with that route, he said, explaining portions of it can be affected by storm surge.
And, if you need yet another reason to evacuate now, consider that you will be one more person for whom safety personnel will have to account – which could slow their progress.
Aside from people “armchair quarterbacking” the storm – waiting till the last moment to leave – Tanner said some people will stay behind for the wrong reasons.
Chief among them is looting.
If you’re still here but planning to leave, and you're worried about your home and belongings, Tanner has some advice. First, take a video of your home, inside and out, and narrate it. Make an inventory of your belongings in case anything goes missing or in case your house has been damaged or relocated by the storm.
And Tanner said it’s important to understand your home insurance policies – what’s covered, and what your responsibilities are to protect your property. (In other words, depending on your policy, you might be required to board up your home.)
Finally, if you've got a home security system, it’s important that it has a battery backup in the event of a power outage.
The command center
“It almost looks like NASA,” Tanner said of the upstairs room in the Sheriff's office building. “A NASA control room.”
He described a scene of multiple agencies focused on their own missions. EMS. The fire department. Law enforcement. Roads and bridges. S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The military. S.C. Department of Transportation. The Red Cross.
Even Ham radio operators.
So far, so good
Tanner said the county has been lucky crime-wise.
Despite the number of resources that have been deployed to staff roads and evacuation routes, there are still officers on patrol, he said.
“Law enforcement is extremely busy,” Tanner said, “but we’re never too busy to protect property.”