CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - One of the key messages from leaders from across Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties at a Tuesday afternoon news conference was to avoid letting Hurricane Dorian’s weaker intensity give a false sense of security.
Leaders said now is the time to evacuate because once sustained winds reach 40 mph, Charleston County EMS will not be responding to calls.
Sen. Tim Scott spokesman Joe McKeown said the senator has been in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as daily contact with the White House and the Governor’s Office. FEMA is engaged and ready to go, McKeown said.
“Once this storm passes, they will trigger, and they will get involved and they will take care of our constituents,” he said. “As a coastal resident, the only thing I’ll say about the storm itself is that it’s not a Category 5 anymore, it’s a Category 2. But that means we’re only dealing with 100 mile per hour winds rather than 185. This is a serious storm, and I would listen to the community leaders behind me.”
Scott spoke toward the end of the briefing, urging people to be safe and keep in mind that the bigger danger from a hurricane is water, not wind.
“Please leave when you have the chance now, and if you cannot leave now, don’t go into the water, trying to escape," he said. "Nintey percent of the deaths during hurricane happen because of water, half of those deaths happen when you’re trying to escape the rising water.”
Jim Lake, the director of the Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center, said people should only call 911 to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire.
“Do not call 911 to report there is water in your home, unless that water is endangering your life,” he said. “Do not call us to report the power’s out unless there are power lines down and they’re creating a hazard.”
Charleston Count residents can call 911 from any phone, can text 911 from a wireless device, or go to 911helpme.com, but said that site should be a last resort.
Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey urged people who had not already evacuated not to attempt to do so once the water begins rising.
“Once the water starts rising and you have not left your home, do not try to leave on your own,” he said. “Do not get in an automobile on a road that is inundated with water, especially daytime or night but especially at nighttime.”
Summey said that during major flooding in October 2015, they had 30 car-in-water rescues in a six-hour period.
Citizen Information Lines continued to field questions from residents on evacuations, shelters and services:
- Charleston County: 843-746-3900
- Berkeley County: 843-719-4800
- Dorchester County: 843-832-0393
- City of Charleston: 843-724-7311
- City of North Charleston: 843-740-5883
- Folly Beach Info Line: 843-588-7006
Charleston and Berkeley Counties are under a hurricane warning and storm surge warning.
Dorchester County is currently under hurricane and storm surge watch.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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