(GEORGETOWN COUNTY) – Georgetown County government will move to Operating Condition (OPCON) 2 at noon today. Additionally, the county’s Emergency Operations Center was fully activated this morning at 7 a.m. and has moved to 24-hour operation, as the county’s Emergency Management Division staff continues to monitor and prepare for Hurricane Florence.
OPCON 2 is a maximum preparedness level and indicates that a disaster or emergency situation is imminent.
As of this morning, Florence is a Category 2 hurricane and is expected to strengthen rapidly into a major hurricane before making landfall mid-week. The National Weather Service anticipates arrival of tropical storm winds by early Thursday with landfall late on Thursday. The storm will produce far reaching impacts, but it is still too early to determine which areas receive the direct impacts. All residents in Northeastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina are encouraged to take this threat very seriously and prepare for potential landfall by a major hurricane and the possibility of catastrophic damage. The storm is 400 miles wide, meaning it will directly affect a large area.
Meteorologists are also predicting significant rainfall with this storm, which could cause river flooding and flash flooding inland in addition to storm surge on the immediate coast.
Preparing for the storm:
Residents are advised to begin preparing their homes for a major hurricane and ready themselves for the possibility of evacuation. Recommended actions include:
· Know where you and your family (including pets) will go in the event of an evacuation, and know your evacuation route. Remember that pets are not allowed in official evacuation shelters and plan accordingly for your animals.
· Have an emergency supply kit ready. It should include at least three days of drinking water (2 gallons per person per day), non-perishable food, a flashlight with extra batteries; a portable battery-operated radio, first aid kit, non-electric can opener, essential medicines, cash and credit cards.
· Protect your home by covering windows with permanent shutters, plywood panels or other shielding materials. Bring in lawn furniture and other loose objects, such as garbage cans and planters, which may become hazards during high winds. Georgetown County plans to announce a sandbag distribution point to assist residents in their preparations.
· Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
· Be sure trees and shrubs near your home are well-trimmed.
· Clear clogged rain gutters and down spouts.
· Fuel up and service family vehicles.
· Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub or other large containers with water.
Residents are encouraged to download the free S.C. Emergency Manager app for iPhones and android devices. This app will help residents locate their evacuation zone, make preparations and receive updates and emergency alerts. It can be downloaded at: http://onelink.to/dn92rx.
Georgetown County will keep the public updated as the situation evolves via its website, www.gtcounty.org, and social media accounts (@GtCountySc and @GCEMD). Additionally, Georgetown County Emergency Management’s 24-hour disaster call center has been activated to help residents get answers to their storm-related questions. The center number is (843) 545-3273.