Charleston Co. looking for safer hurricane shelters


By Danielle Seat | January 16, 2020 at 8:16 AM EST - Updated January 16 at 8:21 AM

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - At Thursday night’s meeting, the Charleston County Finance Committee will discuss the use of schools in Dorchester School District Two for hurricane shelters.

Based on recent calculations, all previously designated locations within Charleston County are not safe if a hurricane reaches a category 3 or above.

The Red Cross has a set standard within a six-page document that classifies which buildings can and cannot be used as hurricane shelters. Two of the main components they look at are the proximity to the water and the wind load. Jerry Zucker Middle School is one of the locations previously used as a hurricane shelter that they have now determined is not safe during a category 3 hurricane because of the wind load.

During Hurricane Dorian, officials say they experienced not only a lack of options but serious overcrowding and overuse of resources.

“It was an issue the last time we had an emergency,” Councilman Herbert Sass said. “We had to transport some people further out of town, and so that means they are on the road longer. It costs more money to transport them. It costs more money for them to get up there if they are driving their own car to the shelters.”

If passed, it will be heard by the Charleston County Council. They are looking to solidify plans before the start of the upcoming hurricane season.

Council members also say they play to look at the cost, if any, that could fall on the DD2 school district.

“If they can’t get to the shelter, they aren’t going to go,” Councilman Sass said. “If they don’t go to the shelter, something bad could happen to them. When people don’t have a safe place to stay in a hurricane they need to go somewhere. We want to encourage them to go someplace safe. So we don’t want them to be in harms way.”

The Red Cross would also like to remind people that shelters do come as a last resort, and it is best to evacuate on your own if you can. The Charleston County Finance Committee meeting will be at 5 p.m. Thursday evening.

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