Continue making plans during hurricane season

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John McCann

Every year at this time, we turn a watchful eye toward the weather, especially looking out for hurricanes.

If you have lived here for any period of time, you know what we have gone through over the past few years with hurricanes. It is essential that we all be prepared for what we could potentially face.

The Town and other entities are working together already to make sure we are able to deal with whatever storm might come our way.

Last month, I attended the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Division's annual hurricane meeting. Gov. Henry McMaster also attended and gave an update on hurricane preparedness from the state's perspective.

Other local authorities and I learned about countywide plans. Susan Cutter, a University of South Carolina geography professor and hurricane evacuation expert, shared insight into the science, skill and luck behind calling for an evacuation, even "when it's sunny at the beach with not a cloud in the sky and no hint of the ominous threat thousands of miles away other than from satellite images."

I would imagine that's a tough call to make sometimes.

Emergency officials rely on a lot of sources to determine whether a hurricane will approach Hilton Head Island and other coastal communities, and whether we will need to plan for an evacuation. In South Carolina, only the Governor can order an evacuation.

Should this happen, we want to be in the best position possible to respond.

Our Emergency Management Team remains on alert, continuously reviews our plans and is ready to enact them if weather forecast shows a hurricane heading in our direction.

You should be prepared to respond as well. Preparedness does not have to be time-consuming. The most important thing is to develop a plan suitable for you and your family. Organize an emergency kit of items you'll need if you have to evacuate. Gather important documents to take with you. Identify evacuation destinations. Stay informed.

I encourage you to visit the Town's website at hiltonheadislandsc.gov and sign up for our free e-subscription service so you can receive emergency alerts via text or email. During an emergency or disaster, Town staff uses this service to relay important information to the public.

You can also find helpful information in our Town's Citizen's Guide to Emergency Preparedness. English and Spanish version of the guide are available at all Town Facilities and on the Town's website.

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov

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