By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Sr. Staff Writer
The Town of Seabrook Island hosted Disaster Awareness Day (DAD) at the Seabrook Island Club on June 14. The event was attended by an estimated 150 locals, which is a bit off the “stacked to the rafters” participation of past iterations. Seabrook mayor pro tem John Gregg emceed the event. He couldn’t recall how many DADs Kiawah and Seabrook have sponsored, off the top of his head. Nor could he recall a time without the event, but it’s always been scheduled to coincide with the start of hurricane season. The expected refresher course included a lot of new information, even for tenured residents.
Phone apps were among the highlights of the day, as Berkeley Electric representative Thomas Harvey introduced SMARTHUB. This app can tell if the power is on at the house before making the trip home. Perhaps more importantly, it can also tell you if the power has been off and for how long. It’s the end to wondering if you need to hold your nose when opening the refrigerator for the first time following an evacuation.
Derrec Becker promoted use of the state’s SCEMERGENCYMANAGER.
This app updates emergency conditions on a statewide basis, and is provided by South Carolina’s division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. CCEMD was introduced by Charleston County Emergency Management representative Joe Coates. It provides similar information but winnowed down to the Lowcountry.
Both Coates and Becker stressed the importance of staying informed about the specifics of conditions in your neighborhood through the communications systems provided by Kiawah and Seabrook.
- Kiawah – KiawahIsland.org – 843.768.9166 (sign up for code red alerts on your cell)
- Seabrook – TownOfSeabrookIsland.org – 843.768.9121
The long list of emergency items to have on hand is no longer the focus of hurricane preparedness. Being ready now means being prepared to leave, and Lt. Chris Brokaw of the Charleston County Sherriff’s office made the point again; if you leave early, you can take any route you like to your destination. Waiting for an evacuation order means you will be directed along the established evacuation route. He also confirmed the route has not changed.
Drivers in the left lane of the Betsy Kerrison and River Rd. intersection/bottleneck will continue along Bohicket. Those in the right hand lane will be routed down River Rd. and back to the Main/River intersection (e.g. merging back with those from the left lane).
The rest of the evacuation route for our area is:
- Main road to route 17
- 17 SOUTH to Jacksonboro
- RT. 64 to Walterboro
- 321 to Olar
- Continue on 321 by turning right to Denmark
- US 78 to Aiken, (the designated “Point of Safety” after which you can do what you want)
St. Johns Fire District battalion chief Ryan Kunitzer amplified the sheriff’s point by reminding attendees that in the event of a serious event, fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will move inland, and will not be available. Patience was urged over and over with the caution “it could be days, maybe weeks, before you can come back and your expectations may be unrealistic,” which is the real rub, at the end of the day.
The event wrapped up with a treatise on flooding and especially earthquakes, which have loomed large in both Kiawah and Seabrook’s emergency preparations/ exercises in recent months.
The old list of items to keep around for hurricanes is still germane;
- Two gallons of water per person per day for at least three days
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Insurance policies, ID and bank account records in a waterproof container
- Emergency contact information
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change
Additional items include:
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of weather sensitive clothes
- Fire extinguisher
- Multipurpose tool
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Duct tape
- Dust mask
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities
Be prepared and contact local authorities for more information.