Weather News

SC price-gouging law goes into effect during Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian moves away from NC coast after Cape Hatteras landfall

Hurricane Dorian made landfall over Cape Hatteras, NC at 8:35 a.m, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm pounded the coast with heavy rain and wind, causing severe flooding and power outages across the state.
Up Next
Hurricane Dorian made landfall over Cape Hatteras, NC at 8:35 a.m, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm pounded the coast with heavy rain and wind, causing severe flooding and power outages across the state.

As Hurricane Dorian threatens the coast of South Carolina, the state’s attorney general has put the Palmetto State’s price-gouging law into effect.

Since Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the law preventing businesses from taking advantage of the hurricane has been in force, Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a press release on Tuesday.

“We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, and other commodities as defined by the statute,” Wilson said. “By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice.”

Dorian is expected to make its way up the east coast through the week. The Category 3 hurricane has already brought devastation to the Bahamas and was lashing the Florida coast as of Tuesday. In South Carolina, the governor’s evacuation order has led thousands to flee the coast.

By law, anyone who charges “unconscionable prices during times of disaster” can be fined $1,000 and serve up to 30 days in jail.

But the law is rarely enforced. After 406 complaints of price-gouging were received during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, none led to charges, the Island Packet of Hilton Head reported.

Listen to our daily briefing:

After Hurricane Florence passed over the Palmetto State in 2018, Wilson explained in an online video that price increases in and of themselves don’t constitute gouging.

If you believe you have been a victim of price gouging, the attorney general’s office suggests that you;

1. Note the time, place, address, and name of the gas station or business

2. Note the price you paid

3. Note any prices nearby and get the same information on those stations or businesses

4. Take pictures that identify the business, along with the price

5. Provide your name and contact information

Examples of price-gouging can be sent along with documentation to pricegouging@scag.gov. A message can also be left at 803-737-3953, or fill out the form available on www.scag.gov.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Dorian

See all 10 stories
Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
  Comments