Experts predict slow hurricane season, county leaders urge emerg - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Experts predict slow hurricane season, county leaders urge emergency preparation

Today kicks off hurricane season, and it's predicted to be a slow one, but county leaders say it is still important to prepare should there be a weather-related emergency. (Source: Katrina Helmer). Today kicks off hurricane season, and it's predicted to be a slow one, but county leaders say it is still important to prepare should there be a weather-related emergency. (Source: Katrina Helmer).
Source: Katrina Helmer Source: Katrina Helmer
Source: Katrina Helmer Source: Katrina Helmer

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – June 1 kicks off hurricane season. It's predicted to be a slow one, but county leaders say it is still important to prepare should there be a weather-related emergency.

“We need to be prepared every single year, because every single year we are at threat of a hurricane approaching us and impacting us,” warns Randy Webster, the director for Horry County Emergency Management.

Horry County's emergency management team makes it a priority all year long to make sure they are ready for any disaster, whether an ice storm, power outage, or hurricane. And it's about time you make it a priority to come up with your own plan.

You need to re-familiarize yourself with evacuation routes, not just from your home but from work and school too. A couple years ago, the zones were switched up. So even if you live several miles in from the coast, you are also required to evacuate. It's a good idea to set an agreement with family outside of the evacuation zones. That way you know if you have to leave exactly where you would be headed, instead of aimlessly driving in hopes of finding a safe place to stay.

“We've had such a long time since the last storm, if you're not prepared, I just have to question that,” says Webster. “Because we've had a lot of time to get prepared. But if you're not, start now.”

On Friday, Webster announced new evacuation shelters at a hurricane preparedness meeting while Governor Nikki Haley was in town. So make sure your kids know where they would be going and how to get in contact with anyone in case they were ever separated. The county now has ten additional evacuation shelters. A few years ago, the county had to take some buildings off its original shelter list because they were in storm surge areas. The remaining shelters could only hold up to 5,000 people. Now with the extra ten shelters, the county has tripled its capacity and can hold almost 14,000 people.

The Know Your Zone App is the quickest way the county can get info out to everyone in case the governor were to issue an evacuation order. The app uses GPS technology to figure out where you are and if you are in evacuation zone A, B, or C. It also shows the evacuation route, a driving route, shelter locations, and distribution points for food or aid. Since the shelter locations were just expanded as of Friday, Webster says the app will be updated to show where exactly those new ones are now.

The same information can also be found on the county's website. If you used the Explorer for ArcGIS app for the BikeFest 2015 Loop, then you already have the app to access the Know Your Zone feature. In the app, click on the search option and type “Horry County South Carolina KYZ”.

The evacuation zones go several miles inland. And emergency management leaders say that's because depending on the strength and surge of the storm, a hurricane has the potential of reaching all the way to Highway 31.

“If you don't know what evacuation zone you live in and it's time to evacuate, that just adds to your anxiety of what do I do and where am I supposed to go? So we encourage folks now, it's time to get prepared,” says Webster.

Something else that can reduce your anxiety is making sure your technology is ready to help you keep in touch and out of danger during an emergency.

Experts at Verizon Wireless give these recommendations as we head into hurricane season:

  • Store phones, tablets, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location. Simple zip-lock storage bags will shield devices, and today there are many waterproof phones, cases and other protective accessories. 
  • Keep phone and tablet batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued. 
  • Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power. Numerous chargers, including solar-powered devices, make it easy to stay powered up. 
  • Maintain a list of emergency numbers – police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your wireless devices before an emergency arises. 
  • Use a free service a free cloud service with your provider to access storage data to save your contacts and other important information on a secure server in case your phone or tablet is lost or damaged. 
  • Use your tablet to photograph and catalogue your valuables and other household belongings for possible insurance claims.

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