CONWAY, SC – (WBTW) Horry County Emergency Operations announced this week the County would reduce the number of hurricane evacuation shelters for the 2019 season.
During Hurricane Florence, the County operated 16 shelters, this season there will be four shelters in the County in the event of a hurricane evacuation.
Horry County EOC officials tell News13, this decision was made after assessing how much the shelters were used during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Looking into both hurricanes gave emergency officials a better perspective as the storms were vastly different.
During the peak of Hurricane Florence, about 2,700 people used the shelters. This while, across the 16 activated shelters, there was room for 9,000 people.The hurricane evacuation shelters are typically used by those with nowhere else to ride out the storm.
According to Horry County Emergency Operations, utilizing shelters not to their potential, causes a strain on resources and can make it difficult to staff.
The County works with The Red Cross, Department of Social Services, Horry County Schools and multiple law enforcement agencies to staff and operate the shelters.
“There is a lot of logistics and planning that has to go into opening a shelter, as well as just figuring out where you want that shelter to be,” Thomas Bell, spokesperson for Horry County Emergency Operations said. “So knowing that is such a hurdle, being able to consolidate those resources will make the shelters be able to operate much more efficiently.”
Bell says the remaining four shelters can still provide more than enough room as there is enough space for about 3,800 people.
All of the shelters are outside of the County’s three current evacuation zones and are listed below:
Aynor Middle School, Conway High School, Loris High School and North Myrtle Beach High School
“As you know we have had a lot of new schools be built especially close to the shore based on the growth of the county but, when we put people into those buildings, we want to make sure they are as far out of harms way as possible,” Bell said.