Preparations, planning begin in case of evacuation - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Preparations, planning begin in case of evacuation

Signs mark evacuation routes in Myrtle Beach (Source: George Umbenhauer) Signs mark evacuation routes in Myrtle Beach (Source: George Umbenhauer)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The possibility of an evacuation Thursday for Hurricane Matthew has law enforcement agencies making preparations and encouraging the public to do the same.

Myrtle Beach Police Department Lt. Joey Crosby said Wednesday’s goals were getting equipment and staff members ready.

He said an operational plan is in place and officers have been assigned to different areas of the city, such as U.S. 501 and Third Avenue South.

While first responders will be readily available during an evacuation, Crosby said people need to understand that might not be the case if they choose to stay when one is issued for their area.

“It’s your way of making sure that you and your family are safe because every storm is different and should something occur, not only are you and your family in danger, but you’re also putting public safety in danger to come rescue you as well,” he said.

Although this would be the first evacuation in more than a decade, Crosby said the department’s officers use their traffic management skills for big events, such as Bikefest, throughout the year.

Plus, he said the city now has traffic cameras that will help police officers effectively monitor the traffic situation and make changes if needed.

He encourages the public to prepare now and get out early.

“We saw a large amount of traffic leaving town last night (Tuesday), which was very encouraging,” Crosby said. "People are taking this storm very seriously and they’re adhering to what the governor was saying yesterday on the news conference.”

South Carolina Highway Patrol observed the same.

“A lot of people are watching the weather, seeing the forecast, seeing that it may be close, so they’re making that decision to leave early,” SCHP Cpl. Sonny Collins said. “It’s a plus because it’s when you have everyone trying to leave at the same time that you have the big traffic congestion.”

Collins said SCHP practices for hurricane evacuations annually. The National Guard is now in the area to help, he added.

“All the folks are now in town,” he said. “We’re ready to go. We’ll get on those traffic control points.”

Troopers already have plans to be along the evacuation routes if an evacuation is issued, but Collins asks people to prepare ahead of time and don’t rely on them for basic directions.

“A small back-up for just a few minutes can cause a big back-up down the line,” he said.

Collins added people need to know their evacuation route so they don’t put extra strain on another one.

He also said people need to have a destination, know how to get there and alert someone of where that is.

“If you’re able to get to Florence, Columbia or even above, certainly the further the better if you’re talking about storm effects,” he said.

Collins said drivers should also plan for their trip to take longer than it would on a normal day.

“Traffic will be slowed to some degree,” he said. “It won’t be as free flowing as it would on a natural day.”

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