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During a pending storm, early evacuation is encouraged. As a former emergency manager said, “When you see a storm brewing, it’s a perfect time to plan a trip to visit friends or family.” If you leave before an official evacuation order, you can travel freely via any route. Once an evacuation order is issued, you may have to take a prescribed route out of town and endure traffic congestion. If your schedule permits, leaving as soon as you are able can prevent congestion and personal frustration.
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A hurricane or tropical storm watch means storm conditions are possible in a specified area. This watch is usually issued 48 hours before storm-force winds (39-73 mph or higher) are expected in an area. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding.
A hurricane or tropical storm warning means storm conditions are expected in a specified area. This warning is usually issued 36 hours before storm-force winds (39-73 mph or higher) are expected in an area.
The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricanes by maximum sustained winds. However, please keep in mind a storm may have stronger wind gusts.Categories 1 through 5:
These categories only highlight potential damage and impacts form the wind. This does not address other potential hurricane related impacts, such as storm surge, flooding, and tornadoes.
Please also be mindful to not classify a storm by “just a category X.” There are many variables which can affect the severity of a hurricane such as if it is arrives at high tide. Remember, many factors are in a hurricane equation and each storm and its potential damage is unique. It is always best to err on the side of safety than to take a cavalier attitude towards hurricanes and tropical storms.
In South Carolina, only the governor can issue a mandatory evacuation order. Your local county and municipal officials are following the governor’s directive and may enact local measures to support and augment an evacuation order as needed for public safety.
For our area, the evacuation route will flow north and west. Lane reversals are possible and should be expected during an evacuation. Evacuation routes can be found at https://www.scemd.org/prepare/know-your-zone/.
The Beaufort County Emergency Management Division, under the direction of the Beaufort County sheriff, is the lead emergency management agency for all of Beaufort County. It has a direct link to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, and during emergencies that office coordinates all response activities countywide through the Beaufort County Emergency Operations Center. The County Emergency Operations Center is staffed by critical support functions and representatives from all municipalities and military bases in the county as well as representatives from the Beaufort County School District.
Following the governor’s lifting of an evacuation order, a policy group made up of senior representatives in the Emergency Operations Center provide input to the Beaufort County emergency manager regarding re-entry procedures.
The City of Beaufort follows the directives of Beaufort County Emergency Management during a hurricane or critical incident. The City of Beaufort activates its own Emergency Operations Center, within the Fire Department, and its representatives are available to assist you with information during such an event.
During a hurricane, the City will update its social media accounts frequently to ensure our residents are receiving the most recent, accurate information. Please be mindful to check if the information you are sharing and/or believing is attributed to a reliable source such as state, county or local government agency.
There are NO shelters available in Beaufort County during a hurricane. Beaufort County, also known as the Lowcountry, is comprised of low-lying land surrounded by marshes, rivers and other bodies of water. There are no shelters in Beaufort County due to its flat land and being flood prone.
In previous years, the Red Cross has opened some shelters in Jasper County during storm events. Please call the Red Cross Lowcountry Chapter (843-764-2323) for more information, or follow them on social media.
Shelter information, when available, will be included in the city's updates to social media. Additionally, a list of shelters will be available on https://scemd.org/stay-informed/emergency-shelters/
If you need transportation to a shelter prior to a storm, please call Palmetto Breeze, the Lowcountry’s public transportation system at 843.757.5782. Please plan ahead; its buses cease operation once the storm and/or high winds begin.
Mandatory evacuation orders are issued to save the lives of residents as well as first responders. If you choose to ignore the mandatory evacuation order, be prepared to be self-sufficient during, and for the first 72 hours after, a storm. High winds during storms prohibit travel of emergency response vehicles and debris following storms may also prevent travel. In addition, mandatory evacuations also include closure of hospital facilities. This means medical care is unavailable until after evacuation orders are lifted. Be prepared to be without electrical power as well.