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Hurricane Preparedness Information

What may we expect in Berkeley County?

Hurricane - A Tropical storm becomes a Hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 Mph or greater. Even a Tropical storm with winds less then 74 Mph can cause damage similar to a Category 1 Hurricane. Planning and preparation should always take place for the next higher category of storm. This action is taken because hurricanes can and have strengthened just prior to landfall.

Important Points

Storms do not often act in a completely predictable manner. A storm may increase in forward speed, greatly reducing preparation time. Also, storms can increase in intensity rapidly, occasionally this may occur just prior to making landfall. Typically, Emergency Management will base decisions on the next higher category of storm.

Berkeley County does not have to sustain a direct hit from a hurricane to cause extensive damage and disruption of services. A Tropical Storm with sustained winds of 50 mph or a hurricane making landfall 75-100 miles south or 50-75 miles to the north can have serious consequences.

Hurricanes can be dangerous killers. Learning the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce the chances of injury or major property damage.

Be prepared to be self sufficient for at least three days (water, food, and other supplies). It may take at least that long for outside emergency workers to provide aid to you after a major hurricane. Power may be interrupted for weeks.

Hurricane Hazard Potential

The four main hazards associated with Hurricanes are storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and extreme amounts of rainfall.

Storm Surge - Historically, storm surge has caused the most hurricane related deaths. The height of the storm surge depends on three factors. One, the intensity of the storm. Two, the storm track in relation to the coast line when land fall occurs. Three, the depth of the water along the coast. Unfortunately, the depth of the water along the entire South Carolina coast is shallow and helps add to the height of a storm surge. Further enhancing the storm surge potential is our coastline, which presents an almost perpendicular angle to any northwest tracking storm. Storm surge heights can range from a few feet to more then eighteen feet, and can travel many miles inland, pushing a wall of water up rivers and into low lying areas well away from the coast.

High Winds - Depending on the intensity of the storm, high winds can cause damage ranging from minimal structural damage to complete building failures. Tropical storm force winds (sustained winds of 40 Mph with higher gusts) arrive many hours ahead of an advancing hurricane. The timing of the arrival of these winds is a critical factor in completing preparedness and evacuation actions. Travel becomes extremely dangerous and even emergency services may stop responding.

Tornadoes - Can and have occurred during hurricanes. It is impossible to predict where, when, or if they will strike. You will likely not be able to hear an approaching tornado during a hurricane. Be prepared, stay alert, and most importantly shelter in the safest position possible.

Rainfall - Typically, 6 to 12 inches of rain or more accompanies a hurricane. Heavy rain slows traffic and hampers evacuation, making a two hour trip into five or six hours. Evacuation should be done in a single trip, as a return trip may prove impossible.

Hurricane Damage Potential Scale:

The National Weather Service uses the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which is a 1-5 categorization based on the hurricane's intensity at the indicated time. The scale provides examples of the type of damages and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. In general, damages rise by about a factor of four for every category increase. The scale does not address the potential for such other hurricane-related impacts, as storm surge, rainfall-induced floods, and tornadoes. It should be noted that falling trees or airborne debris can distroy or cause major damage to structures even in tropical storm force conditions.

Category One - Winds 74-95 mph. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.

Category Two - Winds 96-110 mph. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in an unprotected anchorage break moorings.

Category Three - Winds 111-130 mph. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences within many blocks of the shoreline may be required. Note: Curtain wall failure is the failure of non-load bearing walls, such as brick veneer, underpinning on manufactured homes, or other cosmetic exterior walls.

Category Four - Winds 131-155 mph. More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles.

Category Five - Winds greater than 155 mph. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles of the shoreline may be required.


Berkeley County is not generally thought of as a coastal county. However, portions of the county are subject to hurricane storm surge. Berkeley County storm surge evacuation areas are as follows:

Category 1-3 Evacuation Area - All residents and tourists south of Clements Ferry Road, and south of Halfway Creek Road to Guerins Bridge Road, and those living along the Cooper River south of Hagan Plantation between one mile east of the Cooper River and one mile west of the Back River; also those residents living in low lying areas along the Goose Creek reservoir; and all manufactured housing residents. Others may evacuate as a precaution.

Category 4-5 Evacuation Area - All residents and tourists south of Clements Ferry Road, and south of Halfway Creek Road to Guerins Bridge Road, and those living along the Cooper River south of Hagan Plantation between one mile east of the Cooper River and one mile west of the Back River; also those residents living in low lying areas along the Goose Creek reservoir, the area between Honey Hill and Wambaw Creek, low lying areas along the Santee River south of Jamestown; and all manufactured housing residents. Others may evacuate as a precaution.


If you or your family must evacuate, it is best to stay with friends or relatives, or evacuate well inland (200-300 miles). Should other options be unavailable, see Berkeley County Emergency Preparedness for a list of available options for Berkeley County. This list may change, and is not permanent. Listen to announcements on local radio and television for updates to the shelter listing. Whether you evacuate well inland or go to a shelter, take pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets and sleeping bags with you. See Disaster Supplies Kit for additional information.


  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non -electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact the Berkeley County Animal Shelter for more information.
  • Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a hurricane.
  • Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Protect your windows.
  • Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 5/8 inch exterior-grade plywood, marine plywood is best, cut to fit each window or door, include a 4 inch overlap on each side. Lag bolts should penetrate the wall and frame surrounding at least 1 ¾ - 2 ½ inches. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 12 inches for screws and place 4 holes in the center for pressure equalization. Do this long before the storm.
  • Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
  • Pick-up, store indoors, or secure any item in the yard that can become an airborne missile.
  • Check into flood insurance. You can find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent or emergency management office. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective. Homeowner polices do not cover damage from flooding that accompanies a hurricane.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.


A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.


Listen to radio or television for hurricane progress reports. Have a battery–operated radio or television as a backup when the power goes off.

  • Check emergency supplies.
  • Fuel car.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, washing machine, jugs, bottles, and cooking pots.
  • Review evacuation plan.
  • Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. Use tiedowns to anchor trailer to the ground or house.


Listen constantly to LOCAL radio or television for official instructions. Remember, cable television stations may not have information about the storm. Have a battery-operated radio or television with spare batteries.

If in a mobile home or manufactured home, check tiedowns and evacuate immediately. Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home. If evacuating, take important papers with you.

If you evacuate:

  • Leave as soon as possible. Follow designated evacuation routes.
  • Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
  • Unplug appliances, turn off electricity and the main water valve.
  • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
  • Take pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
  • Lock up home and leave.


Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Have a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Do not use open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light. If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power "surge" when electricity is restored.


  • Stay tuned to local radio for information.
  • Help injured or trapped persons.
  • Give first aid where appropriate.
  • Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid all power lines.
  • Enter your home with caution.
  • Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads. (Sightseeing slows emergency work)
  • Use telephone only for emergency calls. DO NOT call 911 unless you have emergency.
  • DO NOT call to report power outages. The Electric Utility automatically knows about them. However, if everyone else in your area has power, and you don't, call and report your outage.


Check for gas leaks--If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing sound, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company, or, if the situation warrants the fire department from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.

Look for electrical system damage--If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.

Check for sewage and water lines damage--If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. Listen for information about public water and sewage systems and follow instructions from the utility. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water utility and avoid the water from the tap it may be contaminated.

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WebMaster - Wes Blanchard
  Berkeley County
Emergency Management
223 North Live Oak Drive
Moncks Corner, SC 29461
Phone 843-719-4166
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