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June 2, 2020

The Bluffton Sun



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The Bluffton Sun

June 2, 2020


Hurricane season is alive and already kicking By Gwyneth J. Saunders CONTRIBUTOR

Unlike the sudden changes required by the pandemic, hurricane preparation plans are basically the same every year so that the “what-ifs” don’t become “if-onlys.” In the past few years, between June and November, Beaufort County has been fortunate with the exception of Matthew – which cost millions in recovery and months of clean-up, not to mention the immediate hassles of re-entry.


Sun City residents typically gather each year to hear the latest in hurricane preparation from Beaufort County and Town of Bluffton officials. This year, due to social distancing guidelines of the coronavirus pandemic, all preparation information is being shared via official websites and social media. In addition, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division will release its 2020 Hurricane Guide this week.

Before, during and after hurricane arrives, rely on official info These official sources will provide hurricane preparation, evacuation, and return information as soon as it is available. Do not rely on neighbors, Facebook friends or unofficial community group pages. Internet: South Carolina Emergency Management Division, scemd.org: Start here now, for planning guides, access to apps, official news sources, etc. Beaufort County, bcgov.net: Best source for all county information. Also facebook.com/BeaufortCoSO for Sheriff’s Office updates. BeaufortCountyDisasterRecovery.net: Up-to-date information on recovery after a storm TownofBluffton.SC.gov: Storm information and

updates will be posted as they happen. Also see facebook.com/TownBlufftonSC and facebook. com/blufftonpolice for real time updates as events unfold. Phone: Beaufort County re-entry information: 1-800963-5023, updated at least hourly S.C. DOT traffic info: 1-888-877-9151 Mobile Apps: Everbridge (formerly Nixle) alerts: From county, town and other local areas. Get the app on your phone through your app store. Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Bluffton Police Department via MyPD

The best preparation is to start planning now. You can avoid the panic by making preparations as far in advance of a storm as possible. There has already been tropical storm activity in the Atlantic, and two named storms before June 1. • Find out what hurricane storm surge zone you live in with the interactive map at scemd.org/prepare/know-your-zone. • People and pets: Know who and what you are taking with you. • Prescriptions: for people and pets, enough for two weeks or more; eyeglasses or contact prescriptions, body braces, mobility items, etc. • Papers: Wills, deeds, insurance, marriage certificates, etc. • Personal needs: non-perishable food, clothing, blankets, toiletries; pet food, carriers, leashes, litter boxes, litter – comfort items. • Priceless items: Wedding pictures, memorabilia, military treasures, photo albums, valuables. • Check your household gas, water and electricity – turn everything off and be careful upon your return, especially about the gas. • Have a way to get in touch with immediate family members. Plan how to let family members out of the area know your plans and that you are safe. • Do not count on cellular communications and GPS. If towers go down or you run out of battery power, you will need the same information, including maps, all phone

contacts and other important details. • Keep your automobile gas tanks full. Carry enough cash to fill up along your planned evacuation routes. Some gas stations may lose power and be unable to pump gas or may run out as those evacuating pass through. Gas trucks may not be able to reach the stations quickly. • Plan ahead so that you have a place to stay along your desired travel route. • Leaving town: You are not restricted to a route if you leave before the evacuation starts. Once the evacuation order, issued by the governor, goes into effect, all routes are pre-determined and you will have no choices. Returning home Once the evacuation order is lifted, your county or community might not be ready for residents to return. If the hurricane has caused substantial damage, access will be permitted only as needed in a tiered process. There may also be a curfew. • The Hurricane Hotline number is 1-800-963-5023. Choose your community from those listed in the menu options. This phone number will be activated only in the event of an evacuation. • Sign up for updates from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office with the free app Everbridge (Nixle): Text your ZIP code to 888777. • The Beaufort County Community Preparedness app provides numerous tools, including an evacuation map, flashlight and an option to “Share My Status” which will let family members know where you are. It is available from the app stores. • Refer to Facebook pages for Bluffton, Beaufort County and local law enforcement agencies. • Twitter users can follow @SCEMD, @ bftcountysc, @BlufftonPolice, @TownofBluffton and @bcsopio. • For more information, the South Carolina Emergency Management Department 2020 Hurricane Guide will be available online this week at scemd.org. Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.

June 2, 2020

The Bluffton Sun


Plan ahead and pack an evacuation kit You might not need the items in the kit while you are evacuating, but you might need them when you return home. Plan on enough supplies for at least one week. Personal needs Water: one gallon per person for 3-7 days (plastic containers preferred) Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food for 3-7 days Snack items Manual can opener Medications for all family members Medical equipment if needed (cane, walker, CPAP machine, oxygen) Infant, elderly needs (diapers, wipes, comfort items) Personal hygiene needs (toothbrush, toothpaste, moist wipes, hand sanitizer, shampoo, diapers, sanitary supplies) First-aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray Plates, cups, utensils, paper towels Clothing for at least three days Outer wear, rain gear, sturdy shoes

Pet needs Food, water, bowls, treats, toys Tags, documents, leashes, carriers Litter and litter box Medications Important papers and items Cash, checkbook, credit cards Vital records in a fire- and waterproof container Deeds, insurance policies, medical records, legal documents, stocks and bonds, recent tax returns Social Security cards, birth and marriage certificates Passports, immigration documents Spare keys for house, car, storage Other items Battery-powered radio, flashlights, batteries Mobile phone and other electronic devices, and chargers Camera and batteries (for photos of damage) Pillows, blankets Books, toys, handheld electronics, games

WHAT TO DO BEFORE A HURRICANE Get flood insurance now. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding. Go to the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov. More than 75 percent of Beaufort County will flood more under Hurricane Category 1 conditions. Continue to listen to NOAA radio for information from National Weather Service. Create an evacuation plan and communicate that with family and friends living elsewhere. Keep car gas tank filled. Gas stations that might be open will be few and far between with long lines. Check disaster supplies. Refresh as needed. Bring inside anything that can be picked up by high winds: lawn furniture, flowerpots, flags, decorations. Evacuate if advised by authorities. There will

be no voluntary evacuation order. The governor will issue the evacuation order. Turn off the water to your house before leaving. The turn-off valve will be located somewhere on your property. In Sun City, the valve is located under a green cover in the yard and requires only a quarter turn to shut off. Do not turn off electricity to your house. Turn refrigerator and freezer to the highest setting and keep closed. Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances. Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood. Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan.

(From The American Red Cross)

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The Bluffton Sun

June 2, 2020


Threat of not having hurricane protection is serious By Dana Briggs CONTRIBUTOR


Heavy-duty storm shutters and panels are more reliable solutions to protect your home than simply covering windows and doors with plywood. These roll-down shutters are easily lowered and raised, and offer superior protection.

Devastating damage to your home by a hurricane is caused by the vast amount of wind and flying debris. Objects can hit your windows or doors causing openings for gusts to enter, creating negative and positive pressure. Once inside, the wind looks for any area to escape. Since the entry point will continue to have wind coming in, the roof is often the area that gives first, and can actually be blown off of your home. By covering the windows and doors, these openings are blocked from the wind entering your home. There are several types of storm protection solutions. Choosing the appropriate product can be overwhelming. Here is a brief description and an explanation of the benefits for each product. Plywood: Covering your windows and doors with plywood should only be a last resort alternative to actual storm shutters. They are heavy and difficult to deploy. They can also cause damage to your home, as you have to screw or nail them directly into the structure. Pros: Protects from some flying debris, and it’s easy for do-it-yourselfers. You can find the materials at any home improvement store.


Data Source: NOAA National Hurricane Center

Cons: Extremely time-consuming to install; cumbersome, heavy and requires a helping hand. Installation creates weak-point damaging holes in siding and bricks. They are not storm-rated. Storm panels: Storm panels are made of corrugated steel or aluminum. They are stored away until needed and are attached to window exteriors with a system of tracks and bolts. Pros: One of the more economical shutter systems, the panels are strong and protect from most flying debris. Cons: Panels require a larger space for storage. They can be bulky to handle, depending on the size of windows and number of stories on your home.

Fabric panels: These innovative, lightweight fabric panels add trampoline-like cushion to windows and doors and repel flying debris. Panels are anchored to the edges of windows and doorways to a preinstalled fastening system, making them easy to deploy. Pros: The lightweight fabric panels are easy to be installed and removed, then rolled up and stored in a compact space. Cons: They will need to be attached to the anchors manually. Roll-down shutters: With the push of a button or the crank of a handle, these louvered panels roll up or down. They are permanently housed above nearly any span and can be deployed in moments. Pros: The shutters are super easy to raise and lower. They also can be used to secure a home when away. Cons: Automatic roller shutters are more convenient to operate but they can be slightly more expensive. Accordion shutters: Housed on the sides of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable shutters unfold like an accordion to protect your home’s openings during a storm. Pros: Accordion shutters are easily and quickly deployed in the event of a storm. They are permanently fixed to the house and do not require storage. Cons: They add some bulk to the window or door jam. Storm-rated colonial shutters: This style of storm protection beautifies as well as protects your home. Colonial shutters attach to the window’s side walls and can quickly and easily be closed and secured. Pros: Attractive solution that adds to the aesthetic of your home. Wide array of custom colors and designs. The shutters can easily be closed by one person in seconds. Cons: Do not allow light to come into your home when in use. Can be more expensive than other options. Dana Briggs is the owner of Armor Building Solutions. armorbuildingsolutions.com

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Hurricane Preparedness 2020  

Hurricane Preparedness 2020