#1 Welcome to Hurricane Season
Be Prepared; Stay Safe.
As you know, our Island has the potential of being struck with many weather emergencies – hurricanes, tornados, floods, and earthquakes. We usually receive warnings that a hurricane is imminent and hurricane season is just around the corner. It runs from June through November.
The Town of Seabrook Island and the Town of Kiawah Island come together each year to host a Disaster Awareness program to help residents be prepared for any weather emergency. This year the annual Disaster Awareness Day will be held on June 15th. Speakers will address State-level disaster procedures, public notification, EMS and Fire Department response, storm tracking, and local procedures. Important information will be shared with the participants and we encourage you to attend. The Disaster Awareness Day takes place at the Seabrook Island Club, 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. No tickets are required. Lunch is included.
Tidelines will also start a series of articles, called Hurricane Hints, which are things that you can do now to be better prepared for an emergency. Following the ‘Hints’ series, we’ll post articles addressing preparation, evacuation, recovery, planning for pets and so on.
Last, please keep in mind that the Tidelines staff, all volunteers, will make every effort to keep our followers informed of the status of the storm, evacuation, and recovery efforts during such an event; however, we can’t predict the intensity of oncoming storms, whether we will be home or on vacation travels when it hits, or whether there will be internet capability available wherever it is that we evacuate to. Please check the Town of Seabrook Island’s website and watch for the SIPOA’s e-blasts.
#2 Hurricane Hint – Work through your Freezer
Most of us keep excess frozen food stored in our freezers, things that we picked up on sale at the grocery store that we haven’t managed to use yet.
You’ll remember, in the case of Hurricane Matthew, Berkeley Electric decided to protect their equipment by cutting the power to Seabrook Island before the storm hit, and it took several days for the power to come back online. As a result, most of us had to dispose of a freezers’ worth of food. Don’t let that happen again. Now is the time to eat down the foods in your freezer and keep only a minimal amount of frozen food in it until hurricane season is over.
Also, check your homeowner’s policy to see if it covers your freezer contents in the event of a power outage.
#3 Hurricane Hint – Important Documents
In the event of a hurricane or other disaster, you will want to make sure you have important documents in a safe place. Most of us have our homeowner, wind and hail, flood and other insurance policies in hardcopy as well as online. Take a few minutes now to review them to make sure you know what is covered.
Scan to your computer or the cloud your personal documents such as your marriage license, divorce decree, birth certificates, passports, wills, deeds, social security cards, mortgage documents, the titles to your cars, tax, banking and other important documents. If you don’t know how to scan documents to your computer, ask your kids or grandkids, or get a computer service to help you. No help from that quarter? then gather together your important documents in a Ziploc bag placed where you can easily grab it as you evacuate your home.
Now would also be a good time to take an inventory and make a video of your house contents. Most of us can take video with our smart phones. You might save the video to the cloud or to a hard drive that you can take with you.
#4 Hurricane Hint – Clean Out the Basement
You need to be prepared for flooding on the ground floor of your home. Now is the time to clean the basement. Discard the boxes that you’ve been piling up down there. Move yard chemicals and fertilizers up onto a shelf. Get rid of old cans of paint and chemicals (You can take them to Seabrook’s Recycling Center). Get everything up off the floor so that it doesn’t become saturated or worse, requiring a toxic waste clean-up following a flood.
While you’re in the basement, make sure nothing is blocking your flood vents and that they work properly.
#5 Hurricane Hint – Purchase Supplies
There are all kinds of things you should purchase to help you be prepared for a disaster – flashlights and batteries, bottled water, and food that doesn’t need to be cooked for a start. You might want tarps to cover damaged sections of your home, if it comes to that. Consider purchasing a portable external battery for your cell phone.
The recommendation is that you have a minimum of 3 days of food and water for you, your family members and your pets. Most websites recommend a gallon of water per day per person or pet.
Here’s a link to a more comprehensive list of supplies by Charleston County. Click here for the list. FYI: Many of the big box stores have emergency supplies on sale in June.
#6 Planning for Pets
You need to plan for your pets before a disaster occurs.
Now is a good time to get your pet micro-chipped.
Locate hotels beyond our evacuation area that allows pets. Our evacuation area is North Augusta, so plan to drive to a location beyond North Augusta. Make sure you have your pet’s medical records and that his/her shots are up to date.
#7 Trim Your Trees
Do you have tree branches touching your house or condo? Do you have dead trees on your property? It’s time to clean up the yard, remove dead trees that could become projectiles in a major windstorm, and trim back any branches that could be a danger to your home.
Remember, if you are removing branches or a damaged tree, first check with Adrea Hughes at the SIPOA office and complete the necessary paperwork. Click here to review the policies regarding tree removal/trimming which can be found in Appendix L, Tree and Natural Vegetation Preservation/Removal Policy. Click here to review Appendix R, Tree Trimming/Pruning Guidelines.
(photo credit: https://stock.adobe.com)
#8 Hurricane Hint – Prescriptions
It is possible that in the event of a major disaster, we could face evacuation and be away from our homes for weeks or longer. Now is the time to plan for how you will obtain your prescriptions and medical supplies when you’re away from home.
Find out if your mail order prescription company will ship to a different address than the one on file and how long it takes to make an address change. In the event of a major disaster, your doctors will probably have evacuated as well and may be unavailable. When you next see your doctors, ask them to write you a duplicate prescription so that, if you find you are away for a lengthy period, you will be able to continue your prescribed medications.
Also, if you use specialized medical equipment, now is the time to plan for how you will obtain that equipment if you evacuate – take it with you? Rent it at your evacuation site?
(Photo credit: gettyimages.com)
#9 Hurricane Hint – Do You Need Help Evacuating?
Do you need assistance with transportation during an emergency evacuation? The Town of Seabrook Island is collecting names and contact information of folks who may require assistance with transportation to an emergency shelter. Please call the Town at 843-768-9121 to have your name and contact information listed with the Town.
Next, let your family, neighbors and friends know how you will evacuate if it comes to that. This will keep people from wasting precious time trying to find out if you’re okay when you’ve already been taken care of.
We learned after Hurricane Matthew that a Seabrooker remained on the island because he didn’t have anyone to help him evacuate or know how to get help. It might feel uncomfortable and nosey, but please check now with your neighbors who have mobility or health issues to make sure they have a workable plan for getting to a safe place.
Your neighbor may have things well planned which will put your mind at ease, but they may need help and advice to prepare for their evacuation. The Town of Seabrook Island asks that if you know someone you believe may need help with evacuation that you identify them to the Town (843-768-9121). Let’s make sure everyone is accounted for and not leave anyone behind in an evacuation.
#10 Hurricane Hint – Cell Phone Contacts; Arrange for Bill Pay
In the event of a disaster, now is the time to make sure you have the current phone numbers you might need in your cell phone – family members, friends & neighbors, your insurance company, Berkeley Electric, your builder or handyman, the companies you receive regular bills from.
You’ll remember that phone circuits were jammed during prior disasters, but text messages worked. If you don’t know how to send text messages from your phone, get one of your kids or grandkids to show you how.
You also might consider switching the delivery of important bills so they can be received and paid online because you may not be home to receive your bills.
(Photo credit: phonesngames.com)
#11 New Series – More Hurricane Prep
We concluded our series on general hurricane hints. A new set of in-depth posts called “More Hurricane Prep” follows to better help you prepare for a hurricane.
To kick it off, we are providing a link to the brochure on Seabrook Island Emergency Preparedness that SIPOA put together for Disaster Awareness Day. It is helpful to full and part-time residents as well as renters and owners of rental property. In addition, it contains useful tips and resources such as phone numbers and websites.
Julie McCulloch, SIPOA Board of Directors, tells us that Seabrook Island Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has put a brochure in everyone’s mailbox. She also said that they provided copies to rental property companies to put in renter packages. If you’d like additional copies, you can pick them up at the SIPOA office, the Amenity Center, the Lake House or Town Hall.
To download the entire brochure, click here.
#12 More Hurricane Prep: How is Our Community Preparing to Respond to Natural Disasters?
The Town of Seabrook Island coordinates the Disaster Recovery Council, a group made up of staff and volunteers who represent the various entities and institutions on the island. The Council’s membership includes representatives from our Town government, Property Owner’s Association, Club, Utility Commission, Camp St. Christopher, our St. Johns Fire District Commissioner, and our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
These entities have worked together for several years to test and improve the Town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan, which is intended to guide preparation and response to disasters ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.
Both Town and SIPOA have developed straightforward processes for the repair and reconstruction time period, including waiver of the Town’s Business License and Building Permit requirements for contractors who can show printed evidence of homeowner (or insurance company) authorization for projects designed to prevent additional damage to property following a disaster. The Town also has processes to streamline the follow‐on stage of recovery when repair and restoration work is being done. SIPOA will station ARC staff at Town Hall to expedite ARC sign-off on urgent repair projects.
Before, during, and after an Emergency, the Town will communicate information in a number of ways. They will use the S.C. Emergency Management Division’s CodeRED Emergency Alerts to provide up‐to‐the‐minute emergency and weather warnings. The Town will also post information to its website, its 800 telephone number (888‐314‐3177), its Twitter account (@Seabrookislnd87 [this is correct: there is no ‘a’ in islnd]), the SIPOA Highlights eblast, and in Tidelines.
#13 More Hurricane Prep: Tools You Can Use
There are many tools you can use to communicate during a disaster and also during an emergency that may occur other than during a hurricane.
We have posted information on some of them before, but they are important to revisit now. We also have found some additional useful tools you can use.
This is the service provided by a large number of public safety agencies and is important to have not just in the case of a disaster.
It allows first responders to access the information you have provided before they arrive to help you. They would know your medical situation, any medications you are on or allergies you may have. In the event of a fire, they would have information such as how to get into your house, where the utilities can be shut off, etc. For other emergencies, it can provide important facts they may need immediately. In addition, it will provide the name and number of someone to contact if the need arises.
This is another very useful tool that is housed in your iPhone. In the case of an accident, first responders need to know your ongoing medical situation as well as who to contact. If your cell phone is locked, they can’t access any information that is in it. This feature, which is on the front of the phone on the screen where you put in your password, allows them to access this information. The only information that is there is what you put into the accompanying app. You or someone else can also make an emergency call without going into your cell phone.
To find out more about it click here.
For information on devices other than the Apple iPhone, click here.
To see a review of privacy concerns, click here.
We have posted information on CodeRed before. This is the method that the Town of Seabrook Island offers to give you severe weather warnings via telephone, text and/or email.
You can choose to receive notifications about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and/or flash floods. Please remember, hurricane notices can be several days out and you should take action before CodeRED announces any imminent danger.
To sign up, go to the Town of Seabrook Island website http://www.townofseabrookisland.org/
In the upper right-hand corner, click on the words “Emergency Preparedness.” At that point, there are several buttons on the right side. Click on the button that says “CodeRED” and sign up. You can limit the way you receive the information to just phone, email or text or receive it on all of them. You can also list several telephone numbers.
Tidelines listened to its readers when they asked for a way to find out about emergencies without going to their email. We looked into several different social media apps and found that Twitter best fit our needs.
You only have to “follow” people or companies that you select. In addition, you can receive a notification (a noise such as a bell) for only Tidelines, even if you follow other people.
For information on TidelinesAlert, our Twitter account, and how to sign up for Twitter, go to our post on June 11 by clicking here.
SIPOA: The link to their website is https://sipoa.org/
Town of Seabrook Island: Their website is http://www.townofseabrookisland.org/
#14 More Hurricane Prep: Your Pets
In an evacuation, don’t leave your pets behind. If Charleston County is opening shelters for residents, there will be one emergency shelter that will accept pets: North Charleston High School at 1087 E. Montague Avenue.
Things you’ll need if you evacuate with your pet:
- Make sure your pet’s collar is securely attached and that the ID tag is up to date.
- Get your pet microchipped now (if it is available for your pet.)
Your pet’s emergency supply kit should include:
- A recent photo of your pet in case it becomes lost.
- 3-7 days of water and canned or dry food in your pet’s emergency kit
- Bowls for food and water
- A non-electric can opener if using canned food
- A leash
- Pet medicines, placed in a waterproof container.
- The pet’s medical records, adoption papers, etc., placed in a Ziploc bag in the emergency kit
- Toys to keep your pet entertained
- A crate as a shelter may require it
- Disposable bags for garbage and waste
(Photo credits: operationpetsalive.org, http://www.newson6.com )
#15 More Hurricane Prep: What to Do as a Hurricane Approaches
Five to seven days before a hurricane makes landfall:
- Notify friends/family of where you will go if you need to evacuate. Have both a local and an out-of-town friend/relative that your family members can call in case they become separated from you during or after the disaster.
- Use up excess food in your refrigerator/freezer.
- Make hotel reservations in the event that you have to evacuate. Residents in our area will be routed toward North Augusta and Aiken County. Make sure the hotel/motel you choose is beyond the evacuated area.
- Don’t let the gas in your car drop below 3⁄4 of a tank. Be prepared to evacuate by backing your car into the garage or parking it in an open space facing the direction of your escape. Shut car doors and roll up the windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Keep a spare key in your pocket.
- Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect the automatic garage door opener.
- Listen to the local weather updates. Here are some sources of information.
– Local Live5 weather at http://www.live5news.com/weather,
– NOAA’s National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov,
– The local National Weather Service at weather.gov/chs. At weather.gov/chs they will provide impact graphics, storm surge height, storm warnings, and watches.
– The South Carolina Emergency Management Division at scemd.org. This site provides lists of resources plus weather alerts.
– WEZL 103.5 radio, WIWF 96.9 radio and ETVradio 89.3 radio are participants in the nationwide Emergency Alert System.
– Tidelines will also provide updates on email and our Twitter account (TidelinesAlert) as we are able, but check the above sources of information as well.
Be aware that the Weather Channel will not have the same level of local reporting that the sources above will have. Also, keep in mind that the Limehouse bridge is closed when the winds reach 40 mph or greater, so evacuate before that happens or you will be stranded here riding out the storm.
- If you receive Tidelines email notifications once a week, please change your settings to receive the email posts as they are published. You can manage the frequency with which you receive notifications by editing the setting get posts as they are published or in daily or weekly digests. You can also choose to be notified of new comments as well, or turn off the notifications whenever you desire. Simply navigate to the bottom of the posts on this page and look for the line “You are following this blog.” Click on the word (manage) to see and select your subscription options.
- Add TidelinesAlert to your Twitter account.
- Bookmark on your laptop and add to your cell phone the Berkeley Electric Cooperative’s website so that you will be able to see where there are electrical outages (http://outageviewer.becsc.com:88).
- Add the Town of Seabrook Island’s website (www.townofseabrookisland.org), Twitter feed (@seabrookislnd87) and the Town’s emergency number to your computer/cell phone. The emergency number is 888-314-3177.
- Gather your supplies together. Check over everything to make sure flashlights work, you have sufficient food that has not passed its expiration date, buy more bottled water, etc.
- Prepare your pet’s emergency supply kit.
- Bring in unsecured items (outdoor furniture, grill, bird feeders) – – anything that could become a projectile.
- Cover windows/glass doors, move furnishings away from windows.
A Hurricane Warning is issued when the storm is expected to make landfall within 24 hours.
- If told to evacuate, secure your home and leave immediately, turning off the main power switch, water to your home, and the propane at the gas tank before you leave.
- Keep in mind that the Limehouse bridge is closed when the winds reach 40 mph or greater, so evacuate before that happens or you will be stranded here riding out the storm.
- If you are not advised to evacuate, remain indoors away from windows.
(Photo credit: NASA.gov/edu)
#16 More Hurricane Prep: Evacuation Route
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is responsible for publishing the Evacuation Route for the Town of Seabrook Island to be used in the case of an emergency such as flooding or a hurricane.
This route takes Seabrookers up Bohicket Road to Main Road. If Main Road is congested, you might be directed to go up River Road past Maybank until River Road meets Main Road. Continue on Main Road.
At the intersection of Main Road and US 17, you will take a left towards Walterboro and then up to Augusta, Georgia. From there you can start looking for hotels or continue on to friends/relatives. Most of this route has only two lanes and is narrow at some points.
Please click here for a copy of the map to download and print out. It is also available in the red “Are You Prepared for Flooding” booklet you might have received in the mail.
Some good car preparation tips for evacuation are:
- Pick up “South Carolina Hurricane Guide” produced by the SC Emergency Management Division. It includes a map of all the roads and evacuation routes in SC in case you are not in Seabrook. You can get one at the Town Hall or click here.
- Prior to the first sign of an impending disaster, fill your car with gas. Try to keep it at least 1/2 to 3/4 at all times.
- Pack water, snacks, toilet paper, plastic bags and blankets in your car.
- If you have a pet, bring supplies that they may need for a long ride.
Keep an eye on the South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety’s website here. It includes information on lane reversals as well as the same information on evacuation routes from other locations in South Carolina as the Hurricane Guide above.
Remember, please take the route that has been designated for our area. If everyone decides to use I-26 or I-95, it will be bumper to bumper, as that is the route from downtown Charleston.
#17 Hurricane Prep: Preparing to Evacuate
Once we have received the notice to evacuate or if you choose to leave before that, here are some things you need to do before you leave:
- Fill your car with gas.
- Make arrangements for your pets if you’re going to a shelter.
- Flip the latches on your hurricane windows (out). Close your storm shutters or board up your windows.
- Take in your porch and deck furniture, potted plants, yard decorations, bird feeders, and barbecue grill—anything that could become a projectile.
- Close your home’s windows, lock doors, unplug appliances.
- Turn off your home’s electrical main power switch.
- Turn off your home’s propane gas line at the tank, not at your gas grill or other outlets. (Note: you’ll need to contact your propane supplier to turn the gas back on after the weather emergency is over.)
- Turn off your water to the house.
- Turn off water supply to any refrigerator icemakers or ice machines in your home.
- Clean out your refrigerator and freezer – completely. If you leave food in your freezer, place a container of ice cubes in your the freezer. When you return, you will be able to tell if the cubes melted and re-froze, to help you decide whether the food is safe to eat. Make sure your ice maker is off.
- If you leave food in your refrigerator, turn it to the coldest setting and keep it closed. Once the electricity is out, your refrigerator will keep foods cool for 4 hours if left unopened.
- Thawed food is usually okay if still “refrigerator cold.” Maintain proper food sanitation in food preparation and disposal.
- Take your emergency supplies (and your pet’s emergency supplies) with you.
Avoid the inconveniences of a mandatory evacuation by leaving early, before a mandatory evacuation is called. If you leave early, you can take whatever route you want. If you wait for a mandatory evacuation to be called, you must drive the evacuation route. Hotels will be crowded or unavailable because so many people are heading inland, and you’ll have to deal with excessive delays on the roads.
Shelters should be used as a last resort, and most will not accept pets. As we said in an earlier post, shelters are a life boat, not a cruise ship.
#18 Hurricane Prep: Preparing to Shelter When No Evacuation is Required
If evacuation is not required, experts say to have supplies to carry you through 3 days. However, you would be well-advised to have supplies for a far longer time period. We are a barrier island and could lose electricity and/or water and sewer for longer than that.
– Choose a safe place in your home to stay – away from windows. A small interior room is best.
– Take in your porch & deck furniture/potted plants/yard decorations/bird feeders/barbecue grill— anything that could become a projectile.
– Flip the latches (out) on your hurricane windows to make sure they are engaged. Close your storm shutters or board up your windows.
– Monitor the local news resources to stay aware of what is happening:
- Tidelines emails and TidelinesAlert on Twitter
- The Town’s CodeRED warning system
- The Town’s website at http://www.townofseabrookisland.org
- Tune in to local Live5 weather at http://www.live5news.com/weather
- The National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov
- The local National Weather Service at weather.gov/chs
- The South Carolina Emergency Management Division at scemd.org
- NOAA at weather.gov/chs, they will provide impact graphics, storm surge height, storm warnings and watches, etc.
- WEZL 103.5 radio and WIWF 96.9 radio (are participants in the Emergency Alert System)
Please note: The Weather Channel will not have the same level of local reporting that the sources above will have.
– We may lose electricity, water and sewer services. If that happens, you should voluntarily evacuate before a mandatory evacuation forces you out (and in a direction you don’t want to go). If you should make a late decision to evacuate, keep in mind that shelters should be used as a last resort, and most will not take pets.
-Cell phone coverage for voice calls may be out. Try text messaging or switch your data off on your cell phone settings and try to send an email message instead. Let your family members outside the area know what your plans are.
-Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting and keep it closed. Once the electricity is out, your refrigerator will keep foods cool for 4 hours if left unopened. Thawed food is usually okay if still “refrigerator cold”.
#19 Disaster Awareness: Recovery and Reconstruction
Recovery could take several weeks… or months… depending on the severity of the disaster.
Following the disaster, public safety officers will assess the damage and initiate recovery plans and search and rescue activities. There may be downed trees all along Main/Bohicket/Betsy Kerrison and on our roads that must be cleared. Electricity/water/sewer may be out for days or weeks before they can be restored. There may be gas leaks. People who have not evacuated may be in need of medical assistance, or worse.
The Town of Seabrook Island will decide when people can return to the island. They will not allow residents/property owners to return until utilities have been restored and the roads are made passable.
To get updates from the Town, you can:
- call 888-314-3177
- go to the Town website, townofseabrookisland.org. The Town also has a Twitter feed SeabrookIslnd87.
- The Town will also use Code Red (click here to sign up for Code Red)
- Go to www.TidelinesBlog.com and TidelinesAlert (our Twitter feed)
- The SIPOA e-blast will send information out to property owners.
DO NOT TRY TO RETURN TO SEABROOK UNTIL THE TOWN HAS DETERMINED THAT IT IS SAFE TO DO SO. If you do, you will be turned away.
Berkeley Electric Cooperative will know where the power outages are. They have new meters that allow them to monitor from a central location, and they will be working to restore power as quickly as possible. They will be able to call in teams of workers from other parts of the state or from out of state. To find out about power outages any time (not just during hurricanes) you can
- Call (843-559-2458)
- Monitor their website (http://outageviewer.becsc.com:88 ) to see graphics showing where the power is out. Add this number/website to your cell phone or list of numbers & websites.
Berkeley Electric advises that when you return to your home, first check your home for damages. If you smell gas, get out fast and call the Fire Department. You can call 911 or text 911.
If you text 9-1-1, begin your text message with your location and type of emergency. Text simple and short messages without abbreviations or slang, and do not send pictures or video. Be prepared to answer the questions and take follow-on instructions from the 9-1-1 Call Taker. If you are in an area that does not accept texts to 9-1-1, you will receive an automatic message letting you know that you need to call 9-1-1 instead.
Berkeley Electric also advises how to safely turn your electric power back on following an outage. If your main electrical switch is off but power is available in the neighborhood, you should
- First, turn off all the breaker switches
- Second, turn on your main power switch
- Third, turn on each breaker, one at a time, and check the area that breaker switch handles to make sure it’s working before moving on to the next breaker.
The Seabrook Island Club will follow the direction of the Town on when to return to the island. It may take several days following the Town’s okay to return before the Club is appropriately repaired, completely staffed, and at full operations again. This is because the Club depends upon their employees who may be dealing the same access issues we face before returning to work.
SIPOA, the Club and the Town have contracted with a company to remove debris from our roads following an emergency. Much of this work will have been done before property owners are allowed to return. Then, when you have returned and are putting out debris and trash for pickup, follow these rules:
- Separate debris by type – vegetation, wood or materials from our homes, chemicals, brown & white trash (refrigerators, etc.), and spoiled food. The separation of debris will allow it to be cleared by type, which can happen more quickly than unsorted piles of trash which must be dealt with as ‘hazardous waste’.
- Do not place trash near fire hydrants.
- If debris is interfering with access to a fire hydrant near your home, please do what you can to clear it away.
- Be cautious of wild animals. Snakes, alligators and other animals may be out and about, under debris, on your front steps, and even indoors. Be alert for them.
As you investigate damage to your property:
- Take photographs of all damage, keep detailed notes, and make a list of what has been damaged or lost.
- Make temporary repairs to secure your property. Contact the Town of Seabrook Island if you need help to identify contractors who are licensed to work on Seabrook Island.
- Get written estimates from contractors before starting any work.
- Keep receipts for all materials and services used for repairs for use in your insurance claims.
Follow Berkeley Electric’s instructions for turning on power in your home.
- Contact your propane supplier to restart your propane connection.
- Contact a plumber, if necessary, to help with turning the water back on at your home.