How to prepare for another hurricane season in South Carolina | Home and garden

Stock up on batteries and spark plugs. Check where you place the portable radio. Find or buy phone chargers. Fill the jerrycan with additional fuel. Check that the gas generator is running. Make sure the plywood slats are accessible and ready to mount on your windows.

Has anyone ever gotten used to this annual ritual?

It’s hurricane season starting on June 1, and it’s time for Lowcountry residents to get nervous again.

Much of the electrical grid remains above ground, and home construction isn’t always good enough to ensure our structures can withstand sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.

This means it is up to homeowners to prepare as best they can for the high winds and flooding that come with tropical weather events.

Shannon Scaff, director of emergency management for the city of Charleston, said hurricane preparedness comes down to two basic things: knowing your vulnerabilities and having a plan.

He often speaks publicly about preparing for storms. When he discusses with people their decision to evacuate or not, the vast majority tell him that it depends on the intensity of the storm. A Category 1? They will probably stay in place. A category 4? They will probably leave.

But Scaff says simply focusing on the category of a storm misses an important point.

“Water is the main killer,” he said. “Here, we are really in danger. We have a real vulnerability to storm surges. I mean, our nickname is ‘the Lowcountry’.”

A slow-moving, even relatively weak storm can dump huge amounts of water on the metropolitan area. This can overwhelm drainage systems that are already struggling with damaging flooding at high tide.

The problem is that it can be difficult to know what the swirling storm will do: will it gain strength? Will he change course? Will it produce heavy rain for several hours or sporadically? Will he arrive at high tide?

Leaving may be a better idea, especially if you have friends or relatives inland with whom you can stay a night or two. Play it safe. Take a toothbrush, a change of clothes, and essential documents such as your driver’s license, passport, insurance cards and photo albums, and your skedaddle.

If you choose to leave, you must decide when exactly to hit the road. Too soon, you’ll feel like a fool; too late and the roads will be congested with traffic.

Then there are the complicating factors: an employer who needs to keep you on as long as possible, children who need to be monitored or argued over, the car that’s always in the store, and the sick or disabled parent who needs help. . There is also the price of a hotel room.

These and other questions can influence our decisions, not always for the better. That’s why it’s important to think about all of this now, before Mother Nature gets mean.

To anticipate

If you live in a designated flood zone, you likely have national flood insurance coverage provided by FEMA and administered by your local agent. If you’re not sure, check. Flood insurance takes about a month to kick in once you purchase it.

Pack an emergency kit now, before nearby ocean waters warm to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As you do this, you can imagine all sorts of doomsday scenarios that will add urgency to the task.

Think of the essentials you’d need for a few days stuck in a dystopian landscape, then fill a large container with healthy, non-perishable snacks like granola bars, high-energy foods, canned foods, infant formula, pet food, batteries, flashlights, books, knife, can opener, some forks and spoons, water bottles, small first aid kit, essential medications, toilet paper , soap and feminine supplies.

If you’re feeling ambitious, add some cards, a roll of strong tape, some basic tools, a sewing kit, tarps, paper plates and cups, and a writing pen. You probably won’t get stuck in your car, but maybe plan to pack some sleeping bags just in case.

It’s a good idea to quickly assemble your ditch bag and store it in the corner of the pantry. It will be ready if you need it as one less thing to think about when the pressure is on.

Charleston Unveils Glass Dam Sample at Low Battery

Preparation of the boat

Do you have a boat? You will want to secure it to the dock if very high winds and storm surge are not expected. Put in extra dock lines and criss-cross them. Remove anything loose, including sails. Attach the boom to the deck and secure all your canvas with lots of wrap lines. Remember: the winds will change during the weather event, so you’ll want your bow positioned a few feet from the dock (assuming the boat is bow) and a safe distance from other boats.

If you notice any boats nearby that appear to have absent owners and loose lines, notify marina management.

Cooper River Marina (copy)

Charleston County Parks and Recreation closed the Cooper River Marina in 2019 due to damage from Hurricane Dorian. Wind-driven waves damaged docks and utilities. File/Brad Nettles/Personal

If high winds and storm surge are forecast, you’ll probably want to put your boat on dry land and secure it in a boatyard – assuming there’s space available and you can afford it. If you have enough time and you know the path of the storm, you can move your boat to a marina or anchorage outside the storm area.

Another option is to move your boat upriver and into a deep water stream where there is some shelter from a tree line and any surges are likely to be less severe. Anchor it well (and maybe use two anchors) while making sure to allow for a safe 360 ​​degree swing.

home preparation

What about your house? There is a lot to think about. Strong winds that find holes in exterior foundations or penetrate under overhangs can cause real damage. Check your end gables and go up to the attic to make sure your roof sheathing is sufficiently nailed down. Double doors will need to be bolted on both sides and items in the yard such as tables and chairs, barbecues and potted plants must be secured.

Indoors, electronics and appliances should be elevated above potential flood waters, along with other items that could be at risk in the event of water intrusion.

Check for gaps along the edges of your garage door: you really don’t want winds blowing over it. Intense gusts inside a garage cavity could cause real damage to the entire structure.

If you’re handy and nimble, you might be able to do a lot of the prep work yourself. If not, consider finding a good contractor to install hurricane shutters above the windows, improve roof integrity, or add end gable end bracing.

Oh, and trees. Don’t forget the trees. If you have big ones in the yard and they haven’t been trimmed in a while, there’s a chance that a good blow could rip a limb or send a big branch through your windows, onto your roof. or above your parked car. So check for dead or diseased limbs and have them amputated. Then remember to install impact-resistant windows, and place your car in a well-protected place.

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It is time

The need for all this hurricane preparation raises a question: Why aren’t our homes built to withstand a big storm?

Well, some are. Newer constructions sometimes take into account the risks of extreme weather conditions. Overhangs are few, windows are solid and come with shivers, a large crawl space allows several feet of flood water to pass under the structure and not through it. And, more and more, power lines are buried.

Older homes, on the contrary, are more likely to need attention. The same is true for houses located by the ocean or along a flood-prone river or stream.

Scaff said decades of development and growth have transformed the Charleston metro area since 1989, when Hurricane Hugo devastated the area. Today, another Hugo-type storm would be much worse, dealing more damage because there is now more damage.

“When the governor orders an evacuation, it’s because he considers all the risks associated with that event,” he said.

Now is not the time to figure out which important personal items to pack or to try to figure out where to head for safety. It is time.

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