Hilton Head Island planning for hurricane season and COVID-19

Local News

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – There have been three named storms already, and experts predict the 2020 hurricane season will be more active than normal.

On Hilton Head Island, officials say their preparations for that busy season have been delayed by the COVID-19 crisis, but they are playing catch up to keep up with the weather and the changes needed because of the virus.

Emergency officials say they will limit the number of people and main social distancing at their headquarters. That will include the Emergency Operations Center during a storm.

But that will not affect the ability to send out crews or protect the Island. Zoom and online messaging capabilities will be upgraded to make sure social distancing can take place.

All first responders will also have extra PPE or protective equipment so they don’t get the virus, or pass it on to residents they’re helping before during or after the storm.

Officials say its still up to each family to protect themselves in their home, or when they evacuate.

“Think about when you do evacuate don’t forget those extra supplies in your evacuation kit,” said Tom Dunn, Hilton Head Emergency Manager. “The hand sanitizer, the masks. Then think about where you are going. If you are leaving the state the rules in other states may be different than they are here. Where are you going is it a hot spot, what’s happening in the area you are going to.”

Plan early is Dunn’s recommendation, especially because the Jasper County shelter that many people usually do will have less than half its normal capacity because of distancing rules for COVID-19. There will be other shelters open in Hampton and Colleton Counties, but make sure you plan for the extra time and distance.

The recommendation is still if the Governor’s orders it, you should evacuate. There are many different hotels that are protected against COVID-19, or map out a path which might include a family member who you would feel comfortable to stay with who is also out of the path of the storm.

Plan out at least three different places you might go depending on the path the hurricane takes.

The biggest thing is don’t let fear change your minds about staying during a storm. Dunn believes you will be safer far away from the eye, even with COVID-19 rules, than trying to ride out a potentially deadly weather event in your home.

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