Hurricane season has come alive with news seemingly every day of a new storm or tropical system. If recent history proves anything, it is that South Carolina faces a significant threat from now until mid-October.
Look at recent years.
Tropical-related flooding in 2015. Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Hurricane Irma’s coastal surge and flooding in 2017. Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.
And not to be forgotten is that September is the 30th anniversary month for Hurricane Hugo, the 1989 “Storm of the century,” a huge system that scored a direct hit on Charleston. The result was more than $7 billion in total damages and 26,000 homes destroyed in the Lowcountry.
Despite improvements in infrastructure, technology and preparedness, Charleston is still at significant risk from hurricanes.
In fact, a new report by 247wallst.com, a Delaware corporation that runs a financial news and opinion company, ranks Charleston as the 12th most vulnerable U.S. city to hurricanes.
Charleston-North Charleston is home to more than 787,000 people, one of the state’s largest urban areas. 24/7 estimates that 155,740 homes in the metro area would be at risk of destruction from flooding due to storm damage resulting from a hurricane with an estimated reconstruction cost of $40.9 billion.
Myrtle Beach is ranked 13th, just after Charleston.
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Miami is ranked as the most vulnerable city, followed by New York; Tampa, Fla.; New Orleans; Virginia Beach, Va.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Houston; Bradenton, Fla.; Naples, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Philadelphia.
One has only to look at Hugo and the devastation in caused in Orangeburg County, Sumter and all the way to Charlotte, N.C., to know that hurricanes severely impacting Charleston and other coastal areas are major threats inland as well.
So it pays to be individually prepared.
• 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 multipurpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
• Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
• Be informed. Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan and use the South Carolina Hurricane Guide at https://scemd.org/stay-informed/publications/hurricane-guide/ to “Know Your Zone” for evacuations. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
• Download the free American Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. All Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2019. NOAA predicts a likely range of nine to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
NOAA states that it provides the ranges with a 70% confidence – and while the agency will not predict where the storms will hit, no one in South Carolina should underestimate the likelihood that we will be affected.