Thousands of people are heading to the beach this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday. But not too long ago many of the businesses and the beaches themselves were closed when Hurricane Florence touched down off the coast of North Carolina.
Hurricane Preparedness Week starts Sunday and the 2019 hurricane season starts the following weekend on June 1st. But officials at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division are encouraging you to start preparing now.
Myrtle Beach suffered little damage from Hurricane Florence and businesses have since been reopened and the beach renourished, but surrounding areas are still recovering.
In parts of Horry and Marion counties, residents are still building and repairing their homes and property damaged by major flooding.
“Right now we’ve got less than 100 families that are still receiving benefits and payments from the federal government for housing,” said Director Kim Stenson with SCEMD.
SCEMD has also been working since Hurricane Florence hit in late September. Emergency officials have been tweaking new procedures that were rolled out during the storm.
Director Stenson explained, “We’ve spent a lot of time with flood modeling and we really used it with Hurricane Florence and that process will continue to evolve as we get better and better at that. It was the first time we were somewhat able to accurately predict where the water was going to go.”
Being able to predict river flooding helped local and state agencies coordinate resources for residents before the flooding cut them off from the main roads.
The National Weather Service predicts a fairly nomarl hurricane seasion with “9-15 named storms. 4-8 of those hurricanes with 2-4 of those being major hurricanes,” added NWS’ John Quagliariello.
In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit, there were more than 10 named hurricanes, 7 of them major. However, officials say to not let your guard down.
SCEMD launched an updated website and app last year to help residents plan ahead. The website and app gives real-time storm information including closures and shelter openings. The app allows you to also itemize the things you need to have on hand if a hurricane hits.
Officials are also warning South Carolinians that hurricanes are not just coastal events. Residents in the Midlands and Upstate could still feel the impact and should have a plan.
Quagliariello continued, “Your greatest concerns would be the inland flood threat, flash flooding ,river flooding the wind is certainly a threat. Then there’s the threat of some tornadoes as the (hurricane) moves on shore and depending on the track.”
SCEMD has also updated its OPCON levels. The agency orginially operated on a 5-level system. The new system includes only 3 levels to help activate a mass reponse quicker.
Hurricane Preparedness Week starts May 26.
Each day SCEMD and local emergency managers will be highlighting ways residents can prepare for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Daily topics will include:
· Sunday: Know Your Zone, the Hurricane Guide and the SC Emergency Manager Mobile App
· Monday: Create Your Emergency Plan
· Tuesday: Build Your Emergency Kit
· Wednesday: Review Your Insurance Policy
· Thursday: Understanding Hurricane Hazards
· Friday: Prepare Your Pets
· Saturday: Official Start of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season