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NEWS | May 28, 2013

Hurricane Preparedness Week: 2013: Hurricane Hazards

By Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Tuesday: Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge and Flooding
"The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge."

Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. It can reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline and is by far the greatest threat to life and property along the immediate coast.

Storm tide is the water level rise due to storm surge combining with "normal" high tide. For example, if there is a normal high tide of 3 feet and a storm surge of 15 feet, the storm tide would be 18 feet.

Wind driven waves are then superimposed on the storm tide. This combination of high winds and storm tide topped off with battering waves can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, making the danger tremendous. Hurricane Hugo's storm tide was the highest ever recorded on the East Coast at an estimated 20 feet just north of Charleston!

Select the nearest possible evacuation destination, preferably in your local area, and map out your route. Don't get on the road without a planned route, or place to go. 

Choose the home of the closest friend/relative not in a designated evacuation zone and discuss your plan with them before hurricane season. 

You may also choose a hotel/motel outside of the vulnerable area. 

If neither of these options is available, as a last resort, consider the closest possible public shelter. Remember, with the exception of the Coliseum in North Charleston, public shelters do not accept pets.

Use the SC evacuation routes & reversal plans designated by authorities and become familiar with your route by driving it before an evacuation order is issued. \
· Register or get information regarding anyone in your household whom may require special assistance in order to evacuate. 

Medical Needs
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) at (843) 953-2450

Mobility & Other Special Needs

Disabilities Resource Center at (843) 225-5080

Prepare your home prior to leaving by boarding up doors and windows, securing or moving indoors all yard objects, and turning off all utilities.

If you live in an evacuation zone and are ordered to evacuate by officials, do so as quickly as possible. Do not wait or delay your departure, to do so will only increase your chances of being stuck in traffic, or even worse, not being able to get out at all.

Expect traffic congestion and delays during evacuations. Plan for significantly longer travel times than normal to reach your intended destination; don't forget to take entertainment for the kids!

Stay tuned to a local radio or television station and listen carefully for any advisories or specific instructions from local officials. Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio.

Hurricane Hazards - Flooding

Inland Flooding: "In the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, inland flooding was responsible for more than half of the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States."

When it comes to hurricanes, wind speeds do not tell the whole story. Hurricanes produce storm surges, tornadoes, and often the most deadly of all - inland flooding.

While storm surge is always a potential threat, more people have died due to inland flooding from 1970 - 2000. Intense rainfall is not directly tied to the wind speed of hurricanes; in fact, some of the greatest rainfall amounts occur from weaker storms that drift slowly or stall over an area.

Inland flooding is the major threat from hurricanes for people living inland and can be a major threat to communities hundreds of miles from the coast.

Hurricane Floyd (1999) brought intense rains and record flooding to the Eastern U.S. Of the 56 people who perished, 50 drowned due to inland flooding.

Tropical Storm Alberto (1994) drifted over the Southeast US and produced torrential rainfall. Over 21 inches of rain fell in Georgia; 33 people drowned and damage exceeded $750 million.

What can you do?

When you hear hurricane, think inland flooding. 

Determine whether you live in a potential flood zone. 

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. 

Keep abreast of road conditions through the news media. 

Move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood water. 

Do not attempt to cross flowing water, before OR after a storm! As little as six inches of water may knock an adult off their feet and cause you to lose control of your vehicle; twenty-four inches will carry away most vehicles, to include pickup trucks and SUVs. 

Remember, Turn Around, Don't Drown!

 Get flood insurance; flood damage is NOT covered by regular homeowners insurance. 

There is a 30-day waiting period after applying for flood insurance.

The National Flood Insurance Program provides information, maps and assistance finding an agent.