First, I’d like to familiarize you with the actions that have been taken by official Seabrook Island (Town of Seabrook Island and SIPOA) to prepare for a broad range of natural disasters. From January through May of this year, the Town’s Public Safety Committee under the leadership of Councilman John Gregg conducted an annual in-depth review and update of the Town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan (CEP). SIPOA previously published its own updated Emergency Plan on October 30, 2013. Excerpts from the latter document are posted on the SIPOA Public Website under “emergency/emergency-preparedness/.” Related instructions for registering for transportation to an emergency shelter during a mandatory evacuation of Seabrook Island are contained in the Town publications entitled Are You Prepared for Flooding in your Neighborhood?, which are updated and distributed annually to all residents.
In addition to the foregoing, the Town has in place a current memorandum of understanding with each of the following: SIPOA, the Seabrook Island Club, Bohicket Marina & Yacht Club and St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center to, among other things, “…improve communication, coordination and cooperation among them with respect to future emergency and disaster events.” The Town’s Public Safety Committee has, since May 2014, embarked upon an intensive review of the Emergency Preparedness portion of the Town’s Website (townofseabrookisland.org), which is posted under “Emergency Preparedness” with the goal of providing user friendly access and relevant information to aid individual preparations for an emergency.
At this point, it bears reinforcement that the Town CEP, which “…addresses the Town’s personnel, elected and appointed officials, and services provided to its residents…., …does not attempt to address the individual responsibilities and preparations required by the Town’s residents….” The latter statement also holds true for the SIPOA Emergency Plan. Individual responsibilities and preparations are where you, as property owners and your guests and renters come into the picture.
Have you considered what you could or would do in case of a disaster? Especially for your guests if you are not present and for your renters? The first thing that I would advise that you do is to communicate with your association/regime property manager (or, if you have none, the responsible board member) and find out what assistance they will provide in case of a disaster. Have they reviewed and completed the lists contained in the Building and Strengthening Disaster Readiness among Neighbors brochure that is available from our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is discussed in more detail, below? Are the lists current and in the hands of full-time residents and are they prepared to respond? It should be noted that your association/regime property manager or responsible board member are the same people that the Town plans on using as a conduit for information passing to and from your association/regime in the event of a disaster, as well as during its aftermath. If you have a rental agent and/or caretaker, you should similarly communicate with them. I would also advise you to sign up the telephone number at your villa to receive “CodeRED” weather warnings from the Town. This service automatically notifies those in the path of severe weather just moments after a warning has been issued by the National Weather Service and is available to you at no direct cost. You can sign up for it on the Town Website by clicking the “CodeRED” box under “Emergency Preparedness.”
Here on Seabrook, we most often think of hurricanes as the most prevalent type of disaster that we face. We generally feel prepared to deal with them with checklists and emergency evacuation plans, as recommended on the Town and SPOA Websites, to include registration for transportation to an emergency shelter by or on behalf of those who require Town assistance in evacuating the Island. However, hurricanes are something we usually have warning of days or weeks in advance of them nearing and/or directly hitting our Island. Other disasters such as earthquakes, fires, flooding, tornadoes or some other unexpected happening may occur with little or no warning. In such cases, first responders, such as SIPOA Security and/or St. Johns Fire Department, may be overwhelmed and it will be up to us to have plans in place to respond and to be prepared to help ourselves and our guests and renters. Fortunately, we have at our disposal a small group of about thirty 30 residents trained by the Charleston County Emergency Management Department to assist us and our associations/regimes with both preparation and response. These residents form our CERT under the current leadership of John Reynolds (JohnR99773@aol.com or 843-768-0434). The group meets once every two months to discuss safety issues and update and review their skills. They are a subcommittee of the SIPOA Safety and Security Committee and work closely with the Town, even participating in their Hurricane Disaster Exercise this past January 28-29th. As previously mentioned, CERT can provide invaluable assistance to your association/regime in its preparedness efforts.
This review of emergency preparedness is the Cliff Notes version, intended to start you thinking and preparing for all potential emergencies on Seabrook Island, not just hurricanes. I hope that you will take this matter to heart and step up your preparedness efforts so that come what may, you and your association/regime are as fully prepared as possible for it.
Submitted by Allan Keener, June 2015