Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week in SC; tips, resources for staying safe

State - Regional
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This week is ‘Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week’ in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service are reminding people about the dangers of severe weather.

This comes after four tornadoes touched down in Edgefield, Lexington and Richland Counties just a few weekends ago.

The state has also seen three major floods in the past four years.

They encourage everyone to have a weather radio or another way to get severe weather warnings.

A statewide tornado drill will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday for all schools, public buildings and businesses to test their tornado plans.

On Monday at a press conference kicking off Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week, the SC Emergency Management Division laid out the agency’s plans, resources and lessons learned from previous weather events.

News13’s Georgiaree Godfrey was at the press conference.

South Carolina residents are still recovering from a tornado outbreak at the beginning of the month.

At least four tornadoes, including an EF2, touched down within a 70-mile stretch.

Taking heed to those types of warnings is what the SC Emergency Management Division stressed at the briefing on Monday morning.

“Have an emergency plan in place, be prepared to execute it, know what the hazards are and be prepared to do something if you’re called on. Just like General McCarty, said you may not have immediate help and will need to be the help until help arrives,” said Kim Stenson, Director, SC Emergency Management.

“The safest place is typically on the lowest floor of a sturdy structure in an interior room like a bathroom or closet,” John Quagliariello, with the National Weather Service, said.

Severe thunderstorms are more prevalent in the months of March, April, and May, bringing threats of tornadoes and flash flooding, another weather concern the state faces.

“Floods alone have killed 26 people with 12 of them being in the floods of 2015,” Quagliariello also said.

SC Emergency Management said that population compliance is an important part of preparation, citing that only 50 percent of residents followed evacuation orders issued during Hurricane Matthew. 

You can follow News13’s weather center and meteorologists for the latest weather information: 

Local Allstate agencies in South Carolina are giving out free disaster preparedness kits to help with the safety of local families, according to a press release.

From March 11 through March 15, residents can pick up free kits at various locations, while supplies last. These locations include:

  • April Gordon: 4849 Highway 501, Myrtle Beach
  • Zack Kelly: 571 Folly Road, Charleston
  • Don Moffett: 1204 North Main St., Suite F, Summerville
  • Troy Moss: 1307 Highmarket St., Georgetown
  • Landon Papay: 149 Riverwalk Blvd., Ridgeland
  • Sandra Rabon: 9500 Dorchester Road, Summerville
  • Dannielle Thomas: 255 N. Highway 52, Suite 2, Moncks Corner

“Each starter kit includes a first aid kit, emergency blanket, flashlight, rain poncho, dust mask, whistle and water bottle,” said the release.

The SCEMD provides safety tips for severe weather on their website here.

SCEMD says you should develop an emergency action plan for your home or business that “includes what you would do in case of major emergency or disaster” and to develop a communication plan “that enables you to reach out to family members when normal lines of communication are not functioning.”

During and after a tornado, SCEMD says:

  • “If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.”
  • “Get indoors to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.”
  • “If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter.”
  • “If unable to get indoors, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of potential flooding and flying debris.”
  • “Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.”
  • “Use the telephone only for emergency calls.”
  • “Avoid downed power lines and report them to your utility company.”
  • “Stay out of damaged buildings.”

SCEMD says before, during, and after floods, you should:

  • “Avoid building in a flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.”
  • “Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.”
  • “Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.”
  • “Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, berms or floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.”
  • “Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.”
  • “Consider purchasing sandbags in advance because they will be in high demand during a flood emergency. Review your insurance policy. Flood coverage is not part of most homeowner, mobile home or renter’s insurance policies. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.”
  • “Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not wait to be told to move.”
  • “If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.”
  • “Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.”
  • “Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle could be quickly swept away.”
  • “After a flood, listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.”
  • “Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.”
  • “Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Even if the roadway of a bridge or elevated highway looks normal, the support structures below may be damaged.”
  • “Stay clear of downed power lines and report them to your power company.”
  • “Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly to foundations. Stay out of any building that is surrounded by floodwaters.”
  • “Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and other harmful chemicals.”

The SCEMD list of hurricane evacuation zones can be found here

A list of emergency shelters can be found on SCEMD’s website here.

Power outages can be reported to area providers on their websites:

Information about road conditions can be found on SCDOT’s website here.

The Charleston, SC office of the National Weather Service also provides storm safety tips on their website.

They say when dangerous weather, such as lightning, approaches, you should get to a safe place indoors, and if you are caught outside, not to be the tallest object in the area.

For tornadoes, the NWS says to go to the lowest level of a sturdy home or building and into an interior room away from windows.

During storms with thunder, the NWS recommends seeking shelter in a “substantial” building or a hard-topped vehicle, and waiting 30 minutes after the storm to continue activities.

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