Letters to the Editor

Officials should review storm evacuation plans

New eyes on an old problem often bring improved results. Doug Henderson, Beaufort County treasurer, is a prime example.

Planning for a mandatory hurricane evacuation in southern Beaufort County warrants a re-examination:

S.C. Department of Transportation daily traffic data indicate that a right lane of U.S. 278 will evacuate about 20,330 vehicles.

The vehicles in the right-most lane will be diverted onto S.C. 170 north. They will join the 22,500 vehicles that use that road daily.

These 42,830 vehicles will then make a sharp left to merge into the one lane of S.C. 462 heading to Interstate 95.

S.C. 462 will likely become heavily congested. The upshots: Many residents from Sun City Hilton Head, Berkeley Hall, Rose Hill, Belfair and Crescent Pointe could face hours of congested traffic on S.C. 170 and 462. Some might be forced to ride out the hurricane in their cars.

The congestion will be worsened by the traffic caused by vacationers and the seasonal work force.

Is this scenario too pessimistic? Studies of U.S. mandatory hurricane evacuations during the past 10 years indicate most residents wait until the last minute to go. This reflects complacency, the uncertainties of weather forecasting and the expense of evacuations.

I have raised this issue with the Beaufort County bureaucracy to no avail. I urge County Council to form a committee of Lowcountry leaders and concerned citizens to evaluate the plans and suggest improvements.

Mike Bunamo

Sun City Hilton Head