The 2018 Disaster Awareness Day held on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, was attended by a standing-room-only crowd of approximately 150 residents of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. Exhibits by a variety of agencies provided important takeaway information about emergency preparedness and a variety of local resources.
The agenda was divided into three topics. Each topic was addressed by a panel of local experts and followed by a question and answer session.
Each panelist was asked to share their top hint on preparation before a hurricane event and the following points were emphasized:
- Secure your property. Check the outside of your house. Conduct any repairs to the roof or other points of the structure. Trim back trees or other landscaping. Store outdoor furniture and anything that could become a projectile inside. Know how to secure an elevator at the top level of the home.
- Know where the house isolation or shut-off valve is in order to turn off water before evacuating. If you do not have one, it is suggested to have one that is easy to use installed by a plumber.
- Gather or scan to your computer all of your important documentation including passports, wills, tax and banking information, insurance policies, receipts for valuable objects, serial numbers of expensive devices, etc. Take photos or video of the contents of your home in the event it is needed later for insurance purposes.
- Plan and practice your evacuation plan. Know where you are going. If going to a hotel, make advance reservations and in multiple locations in case you cannot get to your intended destination.
- Know where to get good information from an authoritative source, including the Town of Seabrook Island website and SIPOA. (Note: Upcoming “Hurricane Hints” on Tidelines will provide detailed information on a variety of communication tools.)
- Download apps that will help you learn about the status of the island including SmartHub, which is from Berkeley Electric Cooperative about outages, and CodeRED, which supplies weather warnings.
- Be prepared to leave the island sooner than later when a hurricane is anticipated. Decide ahead of time what personal belongings and valuables you will take with you. Know that it might be weeks before you can return safely to the island so pack accordingly.
- Keep your gas tank full and have cash on hand, since you will need these in the event of power failures.
2. Evacuation Procedures and Post Evacuation Security
- Monitor reliable communication outlets to get timely information.
- Heed the evacuation warnings and leave early. Anticipate that roads will be crowded and traffic delayed. Prepare to be patient.
- Anticipate that you might be traveling in your car for many hours. Bring food, water, medications, and blankets.
- Contact the St. John’s Fire Department if you will need physical assistance to evacuate.
- Communicate directly with your family about when and where you will be going. Do not post on social media that you are leaving since this is a potential invitation to a home intruder.
- Turn off the isolation or shut-off valve for water and propane gas, and set your security system on.
- Turn off the ice maker in your freezer, empty the ice bin, and drain any water from it.
- The islands will be secured by at least four Charleston County Sheriffs while the evacuation is in effect and they will not allow you back on the island until it has been declared safe for return.
- If you decide not to evacuate, you will be on your own since essential services, including medical, water and sewer services, will not be available. Power outages and flooding are likely to occur.
3. Post Storm Return and Recovery Procedures
- Decision about when to return will be made by the Mayor and communicated through the Town of Seabrook Island website, the SIPOA e-blast and Tidelines.
- Decision will be based on safety considerations and whether the utilities are up and running.
- Be patient. It could take a long time for return and recovery.
The meeting concluded at 4:00 pm and was followed by a lovely happy hour with wine and snacks served.
Stay tuned for the series “Hurricane Hints” that are posted each Friday on Tidelines and access them at any time through the Tidelines blog.
Remember, be prepared; stay safe.