Haley tours coast as hurricane season begins
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Gov. Nikki Haley is touring the South Carolina coast urging residents to prepare for hurricane season that begins Sunday.
Haley and state emergency officials met with reporters at midday in North Charleston.
The governor says the state will do its part to respond to a storm but residents must make plans as well.
"This is the twenty fifth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. So it's not 'will it happen.' It can happen," said Haley.
It's been 25 years since Hurricane Hugo and Haley worries about complacency because a lot of people on the coast have never been through a hurricane.
"We need families to make sure that they are responsible and they do their part. So we hope that you will come up with a family plan and do everything that we can to keep all South Carolina citizens safe," said Governor Haley.
She said those plans include making arrangements for elderly loved ones and pets, keeping an emergency supply kit with food, water, and batteries. And knowing evacuation routes.
But she says she's also encouraged by the experience during last winter's ice storms. Haley says residents heeded warnings of emergency officials to stay off the roads and stay safe.
Emergency officials estimate that if a storm like Hugo hit today it would cause as much as $17 billion in damage.
"Most lives lost in an event like this are going to be the result of either the surge or flooding. So it's absolutely critical that when we get the order to evacuate, we need to do that," said Kim Stenson, director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
State officials worry that some people may feel too safe. That's why they encourage everyone to be on-alert throughout the year.
"There hasn't been a hurricane in a long time. And we need to remember that even though they are saying that this isn't going to be an active hurricane season, it only takes one," said Governor Haley.
The Department of Public Safety and Department of Transportation will test and train for the Interstate 26 lane reversal in case of an evacuation. That will happen on Tuesday, June 3.