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Hurricane Florence evacuation left few pharmacies filling prescription needs

Prescriptions needed to be filled at Guerin's Pharmacy after chain drugstores closed for the mandatory evacuation. (WCIV)

ABC News4 told you about the pharmacy crisis in South Carolina on Saturday.

Pharmacies shut down overnight after the mandatory evacuation.

Thousands of prescriptions unfilled and medicine behind locked doors.

One of the independent Lowcountry pharmacies that chose to stay open for much of the evacuation with Guerin's Pharmacy in Summerville.

Guerin’s Pharmacy has seen its fair share of storms over the past 140 years.

But last week, they took a beating as one of the few pharmacies open who could fill hundreds of prescriptions.

Guerins Pharmacy has been around forever, 1871 to be exact. They’ve weathered storms, including Hugo.

Back then owner Barbara Dunning says, times were simpler, Summerville was smaller.

“At that time we didn’t have computers, we didn’t need all the electricity, we typed things on a typewriter, insurance wasn’t a big deal,” says Dunning.

Not anymore.

Some of the big chains shut down within 24 hours of the evacuation order last week and the line went out the door at Guerin’s.

Staff worked 12 hour shifts. It was the same story at Publix and at area hospitals.

“People needed their medicine, they needed their insulin, they needed their blood pressure medicine, if they were going to evacuate they needed all their medicine,” says Dunning.

Dunning says, “This is a good lesson that the health community needs to learn.”

Dunning says in the days leading up to the storm, she took care of at least 450 new patients, two thirds more than normal for her pharmacy.

Thousands of prescriptions later, it was obvious. There was a coordination problem.

“There should be a coordination whether it is through the Board of Pharmacy or through us,” says Craig Burridge, CEO South Carolina Pharmacy Association.

He says he’s going to bring up this lack of coordination at the next meeting in October.

We reached out to CVS pharmacy and received a statement: "During inclement weather or weather emergencies, our goal is to keep our stores open for as long as safely possible in order to ensure our communities have access to emergency supplies and pharmacy services while complying with government directives."

Burridge pointed us to the website, www.healthcareready.org/rxopen, which tells people where pharmacies are open in the state during a crisis.

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