As hurricane season approaches, communities prepare

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Hurricane Season officially starts June 1st, but emergency management and disaster relief organizations are already hard at work getting ready for the season, saying the risk of a big storm is always there.

"The fact is it will happen," said Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster. "It could be this year, it could be next year. Now's the time to get ready."

Emergency management, local law enforcement, and communities are educating the public on storm preparation, re-entry forms, and the dangers of storm surge.

"Storm surge is still the number one killer in hurricanes," Webster said.

Last season, Horry County released new "Know Your Zone" guidelines which put more emphasis on storm surge. Webster says for decades, the prevailing concern from hurricanes has been the winds, but he says more and more information about storm surge shows how deadly it can be. People who witnessed Hurricane Hugo firsthand in 1989 say the surge was the more destructive than any other force.

"Coming back into town was like seeing total devastation," said Tom Phipps, who works at Sam's Corner. "It was like a bomb had dropped on Garden City."

In the almost quarter-century since Hugo, new construction methods mean homes on the beach are a lot more resilient to storm surge, but there's a lot more of them now than there was in 1989. That's got Phipps wondering how safe people really are.

"It's just grown," he said. "It's natural growth, but I wonder what Hugo would do to this area today."

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