Lowcountry residents: Next time, should I stay or should I go?

Local News

People concerned about a mess coming back home may not leave next time a storm comes

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – The good news? Dorian passed by with minimal damage.

But in the Lowcountry, there are some issues and questions as those who left return home. Some Beaufort County residents are questioning the decisions made by local leaders after the winds died down.

Power and tree crews littered the streets of Lady’s Island and St. Helena Island where at the beginning of the day about 6000 people were still without electricity.

By 7 p.m. Friday, that number was down to just about 600. Dominion Energy hoped to have everyone back online by 9 a.m. Saturday.

Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner says the entire county should feel “lucky.”

While inland winds only got into the 50s, on Fripp Island, just 6 miles away from the shore, wind gauges registered gusts at 92 miles an hour.

There was a 10 p.m. curfew and Thursday night on Hilton Head Island, and even though most people had returned before then, the Sheriff says keeping folks off the roads and at home was the right thing to do, even the night after the mandatory evacuation was lifted.

Sheriff Tanner says he knows not everyone agreed with his decision. But he says the curfew wasn’t designed to make everyone happy, it was designed to keep folks safe. It did just that.

“We made zero arrests for curfew violations,” explained Tanner. “The discretion of our law enforcement was very good. We had three burglaries within the county of Beaufort and three car break-ins. I don’t know about you, but that sounds really good to me and should sound very good to the citizens throughout this county.”

Many of those citizens decided not to run from this storm.

There’s no way to tell exactly how many people evacuated, but officials tell News 3 the number was higher than they would like, as much as 30-40% in some areas.

The concern is that with every storm that doesn’t do major damage in the county, more people will decide not to heed the evacuation orders or the warnings it gets less every time there is not a direct hit.

One of the big reasons many people don’t leave is because they don’t want to deal with a mess coming back.

Beaufort, via ExploreBeaufortSC.com

The memories of the nightmare getting back to Beaufort County after Hurricane Matthew still linger for many.

Hours on the road, social media issues that led to many folks coming back early, only to have to wait, stuck at checkpoints.

The sheriff says families shouldn’t worry. That is all a thing of the past.

“Many people say I remember what happened in 2016, I don’t want to do it in 2019, I’m going to stay put,” said the sheriff. “The differences are all of those things have been changed. They have all been modified, they have all been updated. Every municipality has signed off on the changes.

“(I know) It is a personal choice. We can encourage we cannot demand and we are going to have to play each storm ear by ear and try to figure out what we can do better.”

There is more good news after Dorian passed.

Hilton Head engineers say the storm caused “minimal” erosion to the sand dunes on local beaches.

The only spot that suffered any damage was on Hilton Head’s southern tip, and that was “minor” according to town officials.

Another reason they call the island — and the entire area — lucky.

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