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SC leaders say state is prepared for direct hit from hurricane, urge all South Carolinians to be ready

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Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The director of South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division said the state is prepared to take a direct hit from a hurricane, if one were to strike the Palmetto State this year.

With the 2022 hurricane season now underway, Gov. Henry McMaster toured three counties along the state’s Atlantic coast on Friday to discuss how South Carolina is getting ready.

McMaster was joined by state and local officials during stops in Horry, Charleston, and Beaufort counties.

“We set it up, all our planning, to take a direct hit from some location along the coast, and we spend a lot of time working with all the principals and making sure that it’s well-coordinated from the local level up to actually the federal level,” South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson said during a stop at the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center in North Charleston.

Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, are expecting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year, anticipating between six and 10 total hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.

Stenson said South Carolina is “almost certain” to experience hurricane activity this season, as he joined McMaster in urging all South Carolinians to prepare now.

They reminded the public that these storms can become statewide events, with impacts like winds and floods able to reach well inland.

“Every citizen has got to understand that they need to get ready way in advance,” the governor said. “Don’t try to do it when it starts raining hard.”

State leaders emphasized three points Friday they asked all South Carolinians to heed with hurricane season here.

The first is to remember their evacuation zone, particularly for counties on or near the coast that are vulnerable to storm surges.

Then they should prepare their homes, with the state’s hurricane guide listing preparation steps for each category of a storm.

Finally South Carolinians need to know their evacuation route and, if evacuated because of a hurricane, should stick to it instead of relying on GPS.

Troopers are prepared to evacuate people along all 35 of the state’s routes, and these routes are ready for evacuation measures like lane reversals, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

“We just stress that you identify your route now,” Rob Perry of the South Carolina Department of Transportation said. “Doing it at 10 o’clock at night when the reversal’s going to start the next day, that’s planning to fail. We want you to plan to be successful.”

State officials said they have been planning with local agencies for this hurricane season since February, with a full-scale exercise to practice evacuation measures such as lane reversals scheduled for next Thursday and involving coastal counties and inland areas, including Columbia.

While interstate and highway lanes will not be closed to traffic, SCHP asked the public to be aware of troopers and SCDOT workers who will be stationed along the road that day for the exercise.

South Carolinians can take a look at their evacuation zone and route and learn more about recommended steps to prepare for hurricanes by visiting hurricane.sc.

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