Horry County Emergency Management rolled out its new Know Your Zone hurricane campaign Wednesday, explaining changes that will take place this hurricane season.
They include three new hurricane evacuation zones, which will incorporate more land and will require additional people living in those areas to leave during some hurricanes based on flooding instead of category of storm. It will be important for every resident to know if they live in a new hurricane evacuation zone and what to do when asked to leave.
"These changes will happen statewide and not just for Horry County," stated Randall Webster, Horry County Emergency Management Director. "The state completed a comprehensive study, which was last done in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo. Technology has improved immensely since then and we are able to view the potential threats to our area. Keep in mind the threats have always been there, but due to technology we are better able to map them."
The changes came about after a new study shows that storm surge - the wall of water pushed ashore by a hurricane - impacts a bigger part of the county than previously thought.
Some communities west of the intracoastal waterway will now be impacted by an evacuation.
"The map has actually moved the western boundary, basically Highway 31," Webster said. "So parts of Carolina Forest and most all of Forestbrook area, a lot of Socastee, and the Bucksport area, are really the main areas being impacted."
Horry County Emergency Management officials will educate the public throughout the summer with town hall meetings. The meetings will concentrate on the new areas that have been added to the evacuation zones and branch out countywide.
Other changes that will affect Horry County will be the removal of "voluntary" hurricane evacuation order. The Governor, who is the only one in South Carolina that can mandate a hurricane evacuation, has removed that terminology and will only issue a hurricane evacuation order. Also, because of the new hurricane inundation surge maps, Horry County will lose three of its shelters and will open eight shelters instead of eleven.
The changes will mean that evacuations will take longer than they used to, Webster said.
"Lane reversals now will pretty much be an automatic for any storm."
To Know Your Zone and to learn more about hurricane planning, please visit Horry County Emergency Management at http://emd.horrycounty.org/ or call 915-5150.