HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Officials with Horry County Emergency Management are urging people to have a plan in place ahead of Hurricane Irma possibly impacting the Grand Strand.
The county is operating on OPCON 4 as of Wednesday afternoon, which means the county is aware and on alert to monitor the threat.
Brook Holden, communications specialist with Horry County Emergency Management, said after a state of emergency was declared in South Carolina, it further signified how important it is for local leaders to communicate this message to people who live in Horry County.
The main message is to be ready to take action.
"So it's important that people are prepared and we sure hope this isn't the first time they've heard of Hurricane Irma, so make sure you have your plans in place and make sure if you do need to evacuate, know where to go," Holden said. "For folks in evacuation zones, be alert, be prepared. If the governor does issue any sort of evacuation order, be ready have those plans in place."
Emergency management officials will wait until Gov. Henry McMaster gives the answer on any sort of evacuation, so Holden advises people to know their evacuation zone and routes to take.
"With the experience of our director Randy Webster, who has had over 28 years of experience, we have worked closely. This is not the first hurricane Horry County has been susceptible to. So with those years of experience, the constant communication, the planning and training year round, that leads to the credibility our offices have with the state."
Horry County EMD has been in constant communication with the state office to make sure there is a unified message. Holden said she hopes there isn't any misinformation going to people.
"So we really want folks understanding the importance of seeking credible sources and that is through local media, through Horry County Government, National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center," Holden said. "Just make sure before you share a post or even like or entertain the idea of anything, be aware that those sources may not be credible or official. So don't feed into the pandemonium. Let's keep it to credible official sources only."
Though it is still too early to know when and where Irma will hit the area, Holden said the waiting time is the best time to get plans ready.
"We have a new governor and this is the first hurricane for Gov. McMaster, so he and I'm sure his office will work very closely with our local leaders and our state leaders so everyone has a uniformed message, so our citizens are prepared and understand the message," Holden said.
Horry County EMD also wants people to know it is in communication with Horry County Schools to talk about potential bus routes for evacuation assistance, or schools being used as shelters.
The agency will continue to monitor river levels within the county, like the Waccamaw River and Intercostal Waterway, while talking with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.