Fewer hurricane shelters in Charleston County, flooding to blame

Fewer hurricane shelters in Charleston County, flooding to blame

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - There will be fewer hurricane evacuation shelters available this year in Charleston County.

"That's why we refer to them as last resort. We don't want anybody putting that down as their primary location that they will evacuate to," said Cathy Haynes, Chief of Operations for the Emergency Operations Department.

"Worst case scenario, the majority of Charleston County could potentially see flooding for a category 1 storm but that's dependant on where that storm makes land fall," said Haynes.

A hurricane evacuation study by The Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA found that a storm surge could become an issue for shelters in low-lying areas during a hurricane.

Hayes said, "Because of that information, it decreased our shelter capacity to where we actually only have 5 shelters that we can open in Charleston County for any category storm."

Haynes says coastal counties won't list shelters until a storm is approaching. That means old shelters used in the past may no longer exist.

"We want everybody to get out and as far away from the coast as they feel safe traveling. The storm is the boss as I like to refer to it and it's going to depend on what that storm is doing as to which shelters we will open," said Haynes.

The last major evacuation happened during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Ten years before that was Hugo.

Haynes said, "There are not very many people that still live in the Charleston County area that was even here during Hugo. There are a lot of new folks moving into the area, a lot of them have never experienced a hurricane."

Emergency responders warn that the community should always be prepared for any disaster Mother Nature may bring our way.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved