Recent tropical weather threats have given rise to a need for me to express once again those things I’ve said over the years that may encourage others to evacuate before a major storm.
It simply makes no sense to remain behind when others have avoided the dangers associated with the storm and the immediate aftermath. You will not like what you see before, during or after the event.
I’ve had the unpleasant experiences of dealing with almost a dozen of these storms, here on the island and in other states including Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana. I’ve never had the experience of evacuating because I worked these storms as a law enforcement officer and saw the very worst.
I know about the immediate danger of these storms, but few ever consider the aftermath and it’s the aftermath that can make you most uncomfortable — and even kill you. I’m now retired and I’ll evacuate ahead of a major hurricane because I can do that now — and it makes good sense to do so.
Forget about the survival kits necessary to sustain life during a storm. Prepare an evacuation kit and leave the island soon enough so as to avoid being caught in the congestion that’s sure to happen in advance of a hurricane. Decide where you want to go for a week or so, and hope that you can return sooner. Coordinate a visit with relatives or book a hotel, but do either inland. Don’t follow the coastline east or west. Evacuate inland and consider a route inconsistent with the tracks of previous storms, northwest is a good choice.
Secure your property as best you can and leave at a time that you feel most comfortable doing so, but do it early enough to avoid that traffic congestion. Expect that you may be denied access when returning, and if that happens you should know that the danger of your return is far more than just the damage to property.
It’s most likely that there’s a major power outage, contaminated water, debris in roadways, power lines down, telephone and cellular service interrupted, television out, flooding and even looting. Police know full well that returning residents will check on their property and tour the island thereafter.
Traffic jams in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike were an unwelcome reality. News about conditions cannot be usually accessed on the island because of power, cable and dish damage/outages. Such is the case in every hurricane I’ve had experience with. You’ll know more about what happened in a safe place with all the amenities and comforts away from this place.
A failure to evacuate or a premature return requires the attention of local police and detracts from the mission of protecting life and property. It’s precisely why there will most likely be a checkpoint at or around Exit 5 on Interstate 45 South. That’s the perfect place to ensure against a dangerous early return, looters, price gougers and the miscreants that such a thing attracts. I hope you make the right decision.