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Ahead of Hurricane Ian's forecasted effects in the state later this week, many in South Carolina are preparing.
Gov. Henry McMaster held a briefing on Hurricane Ian at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
"The main thing I want to assure all South Carolinians is that we're fully prepared," he said. "We know we are going to be experiencing some rough weather."
In the briefing, statewide agencies prepared residents for potential impacts in their communities, including sporadic power outages possible across the state.
"Here's one that may be coming to our doorstep," McMaster said. "We really don't know what's going to happen, but we need to be prepared and watchful."
South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson said the agency is working closely with county agencies, but no county is in need of assistance at this time.
Sumter County Emergency Management Director Donna Dew said county staff is monitoring Ian's travel path closely and is taking the storm's forecast seriously.
"This is not just a coastal event. This is a statewide event. We can expect heavy rain coming in different bands off and on starting probably sometime late Thursday through Saturday, as well as the wind," she said.
South Carolina may begin experiencing tropical storm-force winds across the state on Thursday night with additional impacts such as heavy rainfall, coastal flooding and isolated tornadoes possible.
With Ian's strength upgraded to a Category 3 on Tuesday morning, the American Red Cross urges everyone in the region to make their storm preparations now.
"We have initiated a disaster relief operation, so that means we have people assigned to roles that will fall in queue for the community as needed," said Mandy McWherter, regional communications director for the American Red Cross. "Right now, there is no definitive to open shelters at this point."
If there is reason to open shelters, McWherter said the American Red Cross will notify the public.
"Our job is to support the volunteers who are dealing with people impacted by Hurricane Ian," said Terry Barcelona, a Red Cross of South Carolina Upstate Chapter volunteer. Barcelona has deployed to Florida to serve as a logistic chief. "We will also be setting up shelters in the event they are needed and preparing to feed anyone who needs food. We will use the day or two before the storm hits to get prepared to help people who are in our shelters or otherwise need some help."
According to QuoteWizard Public Relations Specialist Emily Lamb, analysts collected South Carolina data that showed nearly 81 natural disasters have caused $20 billion to $50 billion in damage in the last 40 years.
The data also shows natural disasters have increased by 100% during the last 20 years, while national flooding increased by 83%. Severe storms increased by 445%, Lamb said.
Sept. 22 marked the 33rd anniversary of Hurricane Hugo making landfall in South Carolina. The Category 4 storm brought devastation to South Carolina communities, including the tri-county area.
According to The Sumter Item archives, the storm wreaked havoc deep in the state's interior. The storm resulted in 13 related deaths, $6.5 billion in damage and thousands of lives disrupted.
Sumter suffered "$711 million in damage, 328 personal injuries, 2,112 destroyed homes and one fatality," according to the archives.
AMERICAN RED CROSS
The American Red Cross encouraged residents to do the following now to stay ahead of the storm:
- Get your home ready. Start finding a place to store outside items such as lawn furniture and trash cans to prevent them from being moved by high winds or rain.
- Tune in to your local media for the latest updates. Obey evacuation orders from local officials. Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means conditions are likely and to stay alert - a warning means act now.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cellphone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
- Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding. Take pictures on a phone, and keep copies of important documents and files on a USB flash drive that you can carry with you on your key ring.
- Prepare to evacuate quickly, and know your routes and destinations.
- Don't forget your pets. Bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them. Prepare an emergency kit for your pets with leashes or carriers, food, water, bowls, cat litter and box and photos of you with your pet in case you are separated.
SUMTER POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Sumter Police Department provided the following hurricane preparedness tips:
- Stay informed, and rely on trusted sources such as local news outlets, government officials and law enforcement.
- We encourage residents to always be prepared, which includes having an adequate supply of water and non-perishable foods for three or more days, needed medications, medical devices and supplies, batteries and other power sources.
- Keep your mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops) charged.
- Gas up vehicles.
- Plan ahead. If you have to travel, it could take longer to reach your destination.
- Drivers can expect heavy ponding or flooding along some roads and/or intersections. Slow down, and distance yourself from vehicles in front of you. Stay alert without distractions.
- Limit calls during critical weather events. Dial 911 in an emergency. The non-emergency number for the Sumter Police Department is (803) 436-2700.
OTHER RESOURCES FOR INFORMATION
- South Carolina Emergency Management Division - www.scemd.org
- S.C. Hurricane Guide - www.scemd.org/stay-informed/publications/hurricane-guide
- S.C. Department of Transportation road conditions and other information - www.scdot.org/travel/travel-road.aspx
- National Weather Service (Columbia) - www.weather.gov/cae. Tips and other safety information - www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane
- Federal Emergency Management Agency - www.fema.gov
- Duke Energy Progress - www.duke-energy.com/outages
- Black River Electric Coop. - blackriver.coop/reporting-a-power-outage; or call (803) 469-8060 or after 5 p.m. or weekends call 1-844-431-BREC (2732).
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