Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believe the Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 will bring more land-falling tropical storms and hurricanes than last year. With a prediction of 13 to 20 named storms, the NOAA is expecting this hurricane season to be "extremely active."
Families living on the coast of South Carolina in areas like Hilton Head Island, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach should be adequately prepared for emergencies during hurricane season. Hurricanes of all sizes can bring strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding. Hurricane season on the east coast lasts from June through November, with most storms occurring in August and September. As the peak of hurricane season approaches, make sure you and your family are taking the necessary precautions to keep your home and your loved ones safe.
- Get flood insurance. Hurricanes can bring several inches of rain in a matter of minutes. Flash flooding is common in many areas of the lowcountry and can severely damage homes and vehicles. According to FEMA, Hurricane Irene caused more than $7 billion in flood damages in 2011. Protect your assets with flood insurance; talk to your current provider about your options. In South Carolina, it can be impossible to get flood insurance if a storm has already formed. Get coverage and be prepared before the storm hits!
- Build an emergency kit. In the event of a power outage caused by a hurricane, you should have all the supplies you need to sustain yourself and your family for several days. Your emergency kit should include non-perishable food items, several gallons of water, flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit, and a battery-powered radio to receive immediate updates from the National Weather Service or local news station.
- Know your evacuation route. Most cities along the east coast have evacuation routes developed by the Department of Transportation to help people travel out of harm's way as quickly and efficiently as possible. Know where your evacuation route goes and how to get there. Program this route in your GPS for quick access in an emergency situation. To find your evacuation route, visit the South Carolina DOT website.
- Fill up your gas tank before the storm hits. As a tropical storm or hurricane makes landfall, gas prices go up and fueling stations form long lines of people who waited until the last minute to fill up the tank. Make sure you fill up your gas tank a day or two ahead of time so you can evacuate quickly and safely.
- Set up an out-of-town contact. If you have family in another city, further away from the coast, develop an emergency plan and ensure you have a place to stay if you must evacuate. Call your out-of-town contact before the storm and inform him or her that you may be heading that way if an evacuation is necessary. Make sure your out-of-town contact knows your evacuation route and any alternate routes to a safe location. Keep in touch with your contact as often as possible during the storm to give updates and call for help, if needed.
While only 6 of South Carolina's 46 counties line the Atlantic coast, counties further inland are also at risk for hurricane damage due to low elevation. Additionally, these areas should be prepared for the coastal population that may be evacuating and heading inland. Strong winds, tornadoes, and flooding threaten all regions of South Carolina - including the mountains. Families all across the state need to be prepared! For more safety information, you can visit the South Carolina Emergency Management Division website .