S.C. emergency officials study Sandy for lessons

11/28/2012 12:00 AM

11/27/2012 11:06 PM

Emergency officials on the South Carolina coast are looking at Superstorm Sandy to try to learn ways to better prepare for future storms.

Horry County emergency management director Randy Webster has been looking at the impact of Sandy, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News reported.

The storm hit the East Coast Oct. 29, causing problems from North Carolina to Maine. More than 100 deaths were reported, most from drowning in the storm surge. The storm had moved by Myrtle Beach two days earlier, far offshore.

Webster has considered what would have happened if Sandy had hit the area.

“The immediate coastal impacts would be just as catastrophic, but when you get into that larger infrastructure issue we don’t have the same issues,” he said.

The Grand Strand would not face the same problems with damage to the transportation network, Webster said. The concentration of the population is also much less than New York.

The storm would have been similar to Hurricane Hugo in 1989 as far as the storm surge, up to 13 feet, he said. But Sandy lacked Hugo’s winds.

“There’s more work to be done to recognize that storm surge needs to be at the forefront and not the category of the hurricane that represents the wind speeds,” Webster said.

Storm surge impacts have been studied for Horry and Georgetown counties. Study results for the rest of the state are expected to be ready before the 2013 hurricane season that begins in June, said Sam Hodge, Georgetown County’s emergency management director.

Both men worry about complacency, since Hugo was the last major storm to hit South Carolina.

“As prepared as we think we are, we don’t know until it actually happens,” Hodge said. “There’s the unknown of will the people actually evacuate? Will we have a death toll with people failing to evacuate like they did up there?”

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