HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - If you don't want to get stuck in hurricane evacuation traffic, leave town early. That's the warning from safety experts, but do you know where to go when it's time to flee from tropical weather?
Knowing where to go may be the easy part, but getting there could prove to be the difficult task at hand.
"[It's] extreme, very extreme," Betsi Santone said.
She would know because she was stuck in traffic during the Hurricane Floyd evacuation. She cautions to plan on bumper-to-bumper traffic and drivers who have pent-up road rage due to nerves.
Part of her problem may have been because she didn't leave early.
"Being new to the whole hurricane thing, I just wasn't really sure that's what to do. Everybody's telling you different things. Everybody's' watching the weather channel like it's their job," she said.
"If you get out early, it's not going take as long. If you want to wait until the end, it's going to take longer to get out," Horry County EMS Director Randy Webster said.
Webster wants potential evacuees to remember that they're one of 500,000 people trying to leave the beach. Stack that number up to tourism statistics, and that's how many people leave the Grand Strand on an average week.
"If it's a holiday weekend such as the Fourth of July, that could swell to 750,000," he commented. "Labor day could be 600,000. It just depends on the time of the year."
Webster wants you to remember that you're one of 500,000 people trying to leave the beach. And that's on an average week.
"If it's a holiday weekend such as the 4th of July, that could swell to 750,000. Labor Day could be 600,000. It just depends on the time of year," he said.
Those large numbers are the exact reason why Santone says she won't leave town unless a Category 4 storm comes blowing through. Safety experts, however, say that's not the best idea.
"If you're in a storm surge or a flood zone, no matter what category storm you're in, you need to get out," Webster said.
When evacuations are necessary, he reminds people not to forget packing food, water and medicine. To be on the safe side, experts say evacuees should plan on being away from home for a week.
"Do what your heart tells you to do, but please have respect for Mother Nature at the same time because that's a strong force to be reckoned with," said Santone.
- North Myrtle Beach: Use Highway 9 towards Interstate 95
- Northern Myrtle Beach: Use Highway 22 to Highway 501
- Southern Myrtle Beach: Use Highway 501 towards Marion
- Surfside Beach: Use Highway 544 to Highway 501
- Garden City: Use Highway 17 to Georgetown. Take Highway 521 to Highway 261 and Highway 378 to Columbia