Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that rotate in a counterclockwise motion with wind speeds in excess of 74 mph. Hurricanes are created when ocean water temperatures heat and cause heated water vapor to rise, condense, and form clouds. These clouds then begin to spin with the earth’s rotation and ultimately a large vortex is formed.
On average, seven hurricanes for in the Atlantic Basin each year. When a hurricane moves toward coastal areas, it can often cause severe damage due to strong winds, storm surge, flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. It is important to identify which hurricane hazards might impact you and plan accordingly before a storm develops.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, with peak activity occurring between mid-August and late October.
Before a Hurricane
It is extremely important to prepare well in advance of any tropical development to ensure that you are ready in the event of an evacuation.
- Make a Plan
- Know Your Zone
- Identify your evacuation location
- Build your kit
- Plan for your pets
- Identify trusted sources for information
- Prepare Your Home
- Trim trees, branches, and shrubs that may fall or cause damage to your home.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts, and ensure that drains are not clogged with debris.
- Install storm shutters to windows and reinforce structural components of your home such as your roof, doors, windows, and garage door.
- If you’re not in an evacuation zone, purchase a portable generator or install a permanent generator for emergency backup power.
- Only operate generators outdoors in properly ventilated locations.
- Keep generators at least 20 feet away from doors and windows.
- Avoid exposure to rain and other moisture.
- Operate in accordance with manufacture recommendations.
During a Hurricane
Stay in a safe location away from windows, in the interior most room of your home on the lowest level. It is important remain indoors to avoid being exposed to flying debris, downed utility wires, and other potential hazards associated with hurricane impacts.
After a Hurricane
Following a hurricane, it is important to follow the guidance and instruction from local officials. Be sure to check in with family and friends, and avoid returning home until local authorities indicate that it is safe to do so. Depending on the magnitude of the storm, there could be large quantities of debris and widespread power outages throughout the area. Be sure to exercise caution when assessing your property for damage and photograph all damages for your insurance claim.
Know Your Zone
One of the hardest decisions to make when a hurricane approaches is whether to stay put or travel hundreds of miles inland. To help you make the best decision possible, a study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers redefines the evacuation zones in Horry and Georgetown counties. These evacuation zones are based on a hurricane's storm surge potential, not the wind speed, since flooding, not wind, does the most damage and kills the most people. Georgetown County has three hurricane evacuation zones and you need to know your zone! Remember, if you are ordered to evacuate, it's because there's a real possibility of storm surge reaching your home.
Evacuation Zone A
Areas East of Highway 17 to the Atlantic Ocean from the South Santee River and North to the Horry County line, including Sandy Island; areas East of Dawhoo Lake and South of Walker Road and Powell Road to the South Santee River; all low-lying areas along the Waccamaw River, Great Pee Dee River, Black River, and Sampit River South of Highway 521 (17A), including Maryville; and all mobile home residents in the county.
Evacuation Zone B
Areas East of Dawhoo Lake and South of Walker Road to Powell Road to the South Santee River; all areas on the Atlantic Ocean side of Powell Road to Alt. U.S. 17 to Highway 521 to Brick Chimney Road to State Highway 51 to Black River Road ending at the Black River; all low-lying areas along the Waccamaw River, Great Pee Dee River, and Black River, and all areas East of them to the coast; and all mobile home residents in the County.
Evacuation Zone C
Areas East of Dawhoo Lake and South of Walker Road to Powell Road to the South Santee River; all areas on the Atlantic Ocean side of Powell Road to Alt. U.S. 17 to Highway 521 to Sawmill Road to Indian Hut Road to Carvers Bay Road (State Highway S-22-4) to Plantation Hill Road (State Highway 261) to Old Pee Dee Road to the Northern County Line; and all mobile home residents in the County.
A high-quality version of this map can be downloaded in PDF format here: Know Your Zone Map (PDF)
Hurricane evacuation orders are issued by the Governor in coordination with local and state authorities. Once an evacuation order is issued, the appropriate hurricane evacuation zone(s) will be identified for those individuals needing to evacuate for their safety. The timing of the issuance of an evacuation order is strategically done so that all evacuees can be clear of the identified evacuation zones prior to the arrival of tropical storm force winds.
Once an evacuation order is given, residents leaving the area will be required to follow pre-identified evacuation routes. In Georgetown County, the pre-identified evacuation routes are:
- US 17 through Georgetown to US 521, then take US 521 to SC 261 to US 378, then follow US 378 to Columbia.
- Under certain conditions, an alternate route from Georgetown may be activated using Black River Road to US 701 to SC 51 (Browns Ferry Road) to US 378 at Kingsburg, then US 378 to Columbia.
It is important to remember that if you plan to evacuate to a location other than Columbia, you should leave prior to the issuance of the Governor’s hurricane evacuation order.
Emergency Shelter Information
While emergency shelters provide a safe place to stay and minimal food, specialty items for infants and individuals on restricted diets may not be available. Additionally, it may take several days until local authorities authorize reentry in an evacuated area. It is important to remember that pets are not allowed in emergency shelters. Residents are encouraged to seek shelter with family or friends living outside of the identified evacuation zone(s) and only consider an emergency shelter as a last resort.
If you do plan to utilize an emergency shelter, you will need to bring the following items with you:
- Baby food and diapers (for a week)
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and batteries
- Identification and valuable papers (copies of insurance papers, passports and other essential documents)
- Prescription medications (for a week)
- Toiletries (for a week)
Emergency shelters have been identified throughout Georgetown County for both hurricane and non-hurricane related incidents. Shelter locations will be announced prior to opening and a determination will be made based on the magnitude of the event.
Emergency Shelter Transportation
Transportation to an emergency shelter will be provided on a limited basis if you have no other means to get to a shelter. Call the Georgetown County Emergency Management Division for information on when transportation will become available.
Find pick-up point locations here: List of Pick-Up Locations for Shelter Transportation
Find shelter locations here: List of Shelter Locations