COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster urged South Carolinians to prepare for hurricane season after meeting with emergency management officials for an annual hurricane drill on Friday.
“The message I would like to give citizens is don’t wait until a hurricane is coming to find out what you are supposed to do and listen to the instructions of those officials involved rather than social media,” he said.
During the drill, Gov. McMaster and emergency management leaders discussed what needed to be accomplished, the pitfalls and dangers, and improvements made when it comes to preparing for a potential storm.
“We are well prepared and well experienced,” he said Friday afternoon.
Gov. McMaster encouraged coastal citizens to know their evacuation zone, and when and where to go if an order to leave is issued.
“We want everyone to be prepared and everyone to act as their own emergency management professional,” McMaster said.
Robert Woods, director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety said they, along with the Department of Transportation, began preparation efforts for the season back in January.
“We physically checked every evacuation route in the state ensuring the proper signage is in place, and also confirming that we had adequate traffic control point staffing,” said Woods.
They’ve also been in communication with state and local partners in each of the hurricane regions making sure plans are clearly understood by supporting agencies, and that all necessary resources and personnel are properly committed.
Woods said they are planning to finish preparation efforts with a full-scale exercise on June 17th where authorities will test the state’s lane reversal plan for each hurricane region.
“One of our points of emphasis consistently over the years has been this: understand that the evacuation plan and the success of the evacuation plan is based on each individual citizen knowing what their evacuation route is and taking that evacuation route.”
The South Carolina Department of Transportation simplified their lane reversal plan for the tri-county area, shortening the reversal area by 25 miles- bringing it up I-26 from the I-526 interchange to near the Nexton parkway interchange in the Summerville area.
“Basically, to ensure that the Charleston region can continue to navigate as it traditionally would prior to a reversal,” said Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall.
Hall said the reversal will be very easy to navigate heading towards Columbia.
Governor McMaster said South Carolina is home to the best emergency response team in the country. “We weather these storms because we are prepared,” he said. “That’s what today’s exercise was all about.”