Mechelle Casciotta has lived by means of a hurricane or two.
A longtime resident of Wesley Chapel, a Florida suburb about 20 miles north of Tampa, she’s grown accustomed to the horrors of hurricane season: the flooding, the battering rain, the shrill evacuation alarms.
However nonetheless, she stays cautious. As Hurricane Ian crept nearer to Florida’s Gulf Coast, she watched the trackers like a hawk. Even earlier than her county enacted its obligatory evacuation order on Monday, she was gone — and on the highway to Hilton Head Island.
“I selected to evacuate,” Casciotta mentioned. “It was simply too borderline, and each hour it seems to be prefer it’s getting extra harmful there.”
For Casciotta, her Hilton Head villa is a secure haven from the uncertainty of the storm.
However with Beaufort County prone to a “fairly vital influence” from the storm later this week, many soon-to-be vacationers are going through a tough query: Is it secure to make the journey to Hilton Head?
For now, vacationers are in a position to make a decision themselves. There was no evacuation order issued by Gov. Henry McMaster.
The Lowcountry’s final obligatory evacuation order was sparked by Hurricane Dorian, lasting from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5, 2019. However as a result of Hurricane Ian is predicted to deescalate to a tropical storm earlier than hitting Beaufort County, an evacuation is unlikely.
The City of Hilton Head has not launched official steerage for potential vacationers, however Deputy City Supervisor Josh Gruber says that, like anybody else, guests ought to keep vigilant and monitor the standing of the storm.
The biggest potential menace for Beaufort County is heavy rainfall, in response to the Nationwide Climate Service. Forecasts name for 4-8 inches of rain, with most areas of Beaufort County anticipated to see 6 inches.
The downpour is predicted to start Thursday night and certain will attain a peak on Friday night. Motorists ought to keep away from flooded roads however ought to drive slowly if journey is critical.
Drivers ought to be particularly cautious of driving inside low-elevation areas, together with Palmetto Bay Highway, Sea Pines and the south half of the island. Earlier than you set off to your resort or short-term rental, test your vacation spot’s location on a topographic map to gauge its danger for flooding.
Though journey off the island is perhaps heavier than traditional this weekend, Gruber says the island has not had main points with visitors throughout hurricanes. Even within the midst of 2019’s evacuation order, the circulate of visitors on U.S. 278 by means of Bluffton remained regular.
SCDOT is frequently monitoring visitors and is ready to step in when wanted, Gruber mentioned.
In case of electrical energy outages and water shortages, vacationers ought to pack greater than a swimsuit and sunscreen. Consultants suggest buying sufficient bottled water and nonperishable meals per particular person for a three-day interval. Pets’ meals and water also needs to be accounted for.
The storm’s excessive depth winds are more likely to result in prolonged energy outages. In these instances, a generator could also be used as a brief supply of electrical energy, however customers ought to pay attention to find out how to function the machines safely.
Greater than something, Gruber is asking potential vacationers the identical factor he’s asking locals: Keep vigilant, and keep watchful, particularly because the week progresses.
“[Hurricane Ian] could also be impactful, however we’re nonetheless a couple of days from determining how a lot influence there shall be,” he mentioned.
This story was initially printed September 28, 2022 12:47 PM.