HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – As the 2017 hurricane season begins, something Horry County Emergency Management really wants to hit home is the size of hurricane Matthew, which impacted the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee in 2016.
"Hurricane Matthew was a small storm," said Brooke Holden, HCEM's communications specialist.
That small storm packed a big punch. Damaging winds took out not one, but two local fishing piers. Homes were destroyed and massive flooding followed.
With the new hurricane season officially beginning Thursday, HCEM officials want residents to take their safety seriously.
"As a resident, even myself, we can become complacent, even though we all know we live in a hurricane-prone area," Holden said. "It can get very serious very quickly."
That narrative is especially true when looking back on Hurricane Matthew. It was a storm that some decided to ride out, while others took then-Gov. Nikki Haley's advice to hit the road.
That evacuation system relies on zones. In Horry County, Zone A is the area closest to the coast, while Zone C ends in the Forestbrook area, according to Holden.
Horry County Emergency Management's push to for residents to "Know Your Zone" helped many understand what Haley was calling for.
"Between A, B, and C, what folks need to know is that if the governor issues an evacuation order, it is going to be super important to understand that is the zone they need to leave," Holden said.
She added it's not just leaving, but coming back too.
"Once folks start coming back into the area, that is how they will re-enter, by zones," Holden said.
This year, Holden said residents will notice more new signage indicating which zone people are in and where they're going. It's a push emergency management will hit hard to make sure everyone is as prepared as possible to handle a storm, maybe one even larger than Matthew.
"We want to make sure everyone is aware, from the most western part of the county to the east coast," Holden said.
The Know Your Zone hurricane guide includes evacuation tips, as well as a full map of each zone and specific routes to take.