Letters to the Editor

Work toward better hurricane preparedness

Even relatively minor hurricanes like Irene bring headlines "Millions without power." We might be next.

Loss of power could keep those who evacuate from returning home. That can take weeks, living in expensive inland motels.

What to do? We might begin requiring:

  • Utilities to hurricane-proof infrastructures. Put all new connections underground. Bury more existing "in-the-trees" power lines every year. Place all switch stations, etc., 4 feet above the flood plain.
  • Water and sewer pumping stations should be above flood plain; power lines underground.
  • Cell tower antennas should be rated to withstand 120 mph winds, and fed underground.
  • New public buildings and schools should be on built-up land, and include storage for cots, water and emergency rations so the buildings can be used as hurricane shelters.
  • Wind-proof traffic signals.
  • Expensive? Complicated? Sure, but aim for 25 years for full compliance. Permit utilities to pro-rate costs among all bills. Schools will cost a little more over time.

    We'd become really prepared.

    None of these costs will equal being barricaded from returning home, living in far-off motels, with no school for our kids and the tourism industry dead while we wait for emergency crews to restring vulnerable wires, again.

    Can it be done? Sure. You don't see any wooden power poles on Hilton Head, Fripp or Dataw islands.

    Let's insist on the same protection for the rest of us.

    Rick Butler

    Lady's Island