There were just a few hands raised when Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster asked how many people attending the Carolina Forest Civic Association’s meeting Wednesday night knew their hurricane evacuation zone.
“That’s why we’re here tonight,” Webster said.
Wednesday was the first town hall-style meeting of Horry County’s Know Your Zone campaign, which is used to inform residents about the new hurricane evacuation zones and what to do in the event a major storm hits. More than 30 residents attended the session, held at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center.
The new western boundary for evacuation zones is U.S. 31 and includes the River Oaks, Berkshire and Arrowhead sections of Carolina Forest.
Webster said residents living along Carolina Forest Boulevard aren’t included in the mandatory evacuation zone.
“So, hopefully, that makes you feel a little better,” he said.
However, Webster cautioned that it would still be a good idea to consider evacuating because the chance is good residents would be on their own for three days or more if a major storm strikes Horry County.
He said once sustained winds hit 40 to 60 miles per hour, it’s too dangerous for first responders to respond to emergencies. If people choose not to leave, and live in an evacuation and call for help, chances are good they won’t get it, Webster added.
When it comes to evacuating, Webster said it could take 27 hours for all three Horry County evacuation zones to be cleared out.
Webster said when evacuations in the Carolina Forest area start, law enforcement will move traffic along. Once lane reversals start at the interchanges of U.S. 501 and S.C. 22 and S.C. 544, respectively, those diverted to the southbound 501 lanes will have to stay there until they reach their final destinations.
Resident Bo Ives asked if those living off Carolina Forest Boulevard who choose to evacuate would be able to make a right turn onto U.S. 501. Webster said they would.
In addition to evacuation, Webster stressed the importance of having a hurricane survival kit prepared that includes enough non-perishable food, water, batteries and books and games to sustain families for up to two weeks.
Horry County Councilman Carl Schwarzkopf, who was in attendance, advised that families who are considering going to emergency shelters should also bring blankets and pillows for sleeping.
“If you anticipate going to a shelter, you’re not going to a hotel,” he said.
Officials changed evacuation zones for this season after using the latest technology, and members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers released a study showing storm surge impacts to better map out a model of which areas were most at risk during a storm.
Where once the Intracoastal Waterway served as a line of demarcation between coastal danger and inland safety, new models showed that areas of Horry and Georgetown counties that had never been under a mandatory evacuation order could be impacted by rising waters and should be evacuated
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.