Evacuation Travel Question and Answer:
What to do if the Governor
orders an evacuation:
A voluntary evacuation order will go out first, followed by a
mandatory evacuation. When a hurricane represents a serious
threat to the health, safety and well-being of South Carolina
residents and visitors, he will order a mandatory evacuation.
Expect heavy, slower-moving
traffic. Leave as
early as possible when an evacuation order goes out.
If motorists need to get
through traffic quickly, the best advice is to leave early.
If motorists have family members with special needs, such as
senior citizens or small children, the Highway Patrol
encourages them to leave as soon as a voluntary evacuation
order is issued.
People living in Coastal areas should have an evacuation
game plan before hurricane season starts; ideally, it should
take no family longer than one-half hour from the time they
begin packing until the time they actually get on the road.
Car pool. Do not take
Make sure vehicle is in good
working order: has a full tank of gas; check tire pressure,
oil levels, lights, etc.
Take food, water, medicine,
toiletry items and maps – particularly evacuation routes.
Tune into local radio stations, especially local public
radio station, to get updates on the situation.
Can motorists use other
routes besides designated evacuation routes?
The Highway Patrol has
designated evacuation routes from each coastal area.
Motorists are strongly
encouraged to take only those designated routes during an
evacuation. If they
do choose an alternate route that crosses a designated
evacuation route, traffic along the designated route will
have the right- of-way. Motorists should keep in mind that
law enforcement is concentrating its resources along these
designated evacuation routes, and it may take longer for an
officer to reach them if they have an emergency on an
alternate route. Also, during an emergency situation,
certain roads may be closed for public safety reasons.
What if someone needs to get into an area that has been
Motorists generally will not be allowed to enter any area
that is under a mandatory evacuation order. They should
monitor the situation closely and take care of any
pre-hurricane preparations before any evacuation orders are
issued or, at the very latest, while a voluntary evacuation
order is in effect.
What if an evacuee’s
car breaks down or runs out of gas?
A cell phone can be helpful
during an evacuation, but the airwaves will be very busy and
callers may have trouble getting through. It’s also a good
idea to have change for pay phones as a backup if cellular
phone calls cannot be completed.
Motorists are asked not to call
*HP unless they have a true traffic or medical emergency.
SC DOT will have its Incident Management Vehicles out to
help as well.
What if a motorist is involved in a collision while evacuating?
Law enforcement will have numerous law enforcement officers
and other emergency services personnel along all designated
evacuation routes. Collisions involving injuries will
receive priority in emergency response. When reporting a
collision, be as specific as possible about the location,
the extent and number of any injuries, and how many vehicles
are involved. It is critical that roadway emergency lanes,
medians and shoulders be clear for emergency traffic only.
If a motorist is involved in a minor collision without
injuries or they have problems with their vehicle, they are
encouraged to clear the roadway as much as possible.
will emergency vehicles function during an evacuation?
There are going to be emergencies during evacuation, and
emergency vehicles are going to need a way to get through
traffic quickly. Law enforcement will issue citations to
motorists who block these lanes by trying to move through
traffic quicker themselves. Motorists must stay in line with
the flow of traffic.
someone needs to stop along a designated evacuation route (i.e.
for gas, to use the restroom, etc.), will they be able to get
back on the road?
There will be comfort stations/rest areas at designated
areas along I-26. Department of Natural Resources officers
will be on hand to ensure motorists’ safety when they stop
and to help coordinate the flow of traffic in and out. Once
again, motorists are encouraged to plan ahead by having a
full tank of gas when they leave, bringing food items with
them and cellular phones. SC DOT personnel will provide
bottled water, maps and information. Restroom facilities
have been expanded.
long should it take to evacuate the coastal areas: Hilton
Head/Beaufort? Charleston? Grand Strand?
This will vary depending on many
factors: such as the weather, traffic volume, cooperation of
motorists. If there is a Governor-ordered voluntary evacuation,
it may begin 36 hours before the arrival of gale force winds in
excess of 39 mph; a mandatory evacuation would begin 24 hours
before the arrival of gale force winds in excess of 39 mph. The
amount of time it will take during a mandatory evacuation will
depend largely on how many people evacuate during a voluntary
evacuation and participation during the mandatory evacuation.
How far inland should
Governor and the Emergency Management Division will be
monitoring this and issuing instructions/suggestions based on
the storm’s intensity and projected course. The plan is to move
people far enough inland to protect them from rain-induced
flooding, winds and storm surge.
How will people know
when they can return home?
People should tune into the local
media for any announcements about re-entry. Emergency officials
will be assessing any damage just as soon as the storm passes.
The evacuation order may not be lifted for all areas at the same
time. Motorists should be certain it is clear for them to return
to their area before getting on the road because law enforcement
cannot permit people to enter any areas where the evacuation
order is still in effect. Traffic will be extremely heavy when
the evacuation order is lifted and people start returning to the
coast. Motorists should stay tuned to the radio as they are
returning for any special instructions about traffic. In order
to prevent bottlenecks in some areas, law enforcement may be
re-directing some traffic onto less heavily-traveled routes.
Again, it’s important to be patient and remain flexible.