Small beach town on alert for Hurricane Irene

EDISTO ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A small beach town on big alert as early projections by the National Hurricane Center predicted Hurricane Irene to hit Edisto Beach as a category three hurricane.

For now it's business as usual for beach visitors, but as the projected path of Hurricane Irene changes, Edisto Beach visitors are keeping an eye on the eye of the storm.

"That would be awful! That would be terrible! I'd hate to have to leave early but we would if we had to," visitor from Gainesville, Ga Jackie Denney said.

"I guess we're just going to try to get prepared, get water, cans, food, stuff like that," visitors Bobby Houston and Melissa Hilton said.

The National Hurricane Center predicts that Irene could hit the southeast coast by Friday Afternoon or Saturday.

The owner of Gramling Home Services, Bud Gramling, says business is starting to pick up.

"I've gotten five calls already of people interested in getting their house boarded up," Gramling said. "Most of them have plywood to put up over their doors and windows. Some of them have aluminum shutters to go up over."

At Town Hall administrators have a hurricane plan in place. They say the possibility of heavy rains, flooding, wind, and storm surge is nothing for people in the area to take lightly.

"Thank God we do have a period of time to prepare if it does come. We should not spend that time not preparing. In other words you should know where you're going, where your children are going, you should have sufficient food, water, things of that nature in your house in case of emergency," Edisto Beach Mayor Burley L. Lyons said.

Gramling, who has lived on the island when Hugo struck says the best advice is don't delay and prepare now.

"Don't wait until the last minute then call me. I can only do so many a day," Gramling said.

The mayor says luckily many tourists are gone as the height of tourist season is June or July, and many locals are familiar with hurricane plans. The current population is 750 beach residents.

If an evacuation is called by the Governor for the beach, the mayor says they will activate the "Code Red Emergency System." That will call all citizens on the beach to alert them when the storm is expected to make landfall. Town officials also visit residents door to door to inform them of the storm and evacuation plans.

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