During the past two days, the forecast for Kiawah has changed with each hurricane center update. Yesterday, we were planning for more prolonged tropical storm conditions. This morning the forecast is more positive. Since Kiawah is not expected to be impacted until late Saturday or Sunday, this will undoubtedly change again.
Based on the weather advice available to us, the town and KICA are planning for a storm scenario much like Hurricane Matthew two years ago. Some tropical storm winds, with higher gusts, and heavy rain. We are not expecting hurricane force winds and we are not expecting significant storm surge.
If you were on Kiawah two years ago, you will remember the impact from Matthew. We saw a great deal of debris from trees and other vegetation, a few uprooted trees, heavy street flooding, especially on the Parkway, and damage to the beach and walkovers. We did not see damage to structures, and because of the minimal storm surge, there was little flooding of homes.
The town and KICA are already coordinating to make a quick assessment of the island as soon as the weather clears and commence clean up, so residents can return as quickly as possible. Our goal is for an immediate return, but please recall that with Matthew work crews needed about 24 hours after the storm passed to get our major roads open, and electrical power did not return until after that.
The island is quiet. It appears that almost all residents have left, and all businesses are closed. Sheriff Deputies are stopping motorists at Betsy Kerrison, so the island is secured.
The town will continue to send out its regular updates each afternoon. We will update you on the forecast, conditions on the island, and information to help you plan for your post-storm return.
Berkeley Electric has urged residents of the islands to prepare for extended outages. This is especially important for members who have medical needs requiring power. Berkeley Electric Cooperative cannot guarantee uninterrupted power during a major outage and will not be able to provide a timeline for restoration until after the storm has passed and the damage to the system can be evaluated. We will keep you advised.
As I said in my message Tuesday, the forecast for this storm is fluid and we hope that all of this caution and planning is unnecessary. But we are continually reminded that this storm has been difficult to predict, and these expectations can change. You should be assured that the employees of the each of Kiawah’s governing, business, and public safety organizations are prepared and working as a team to deal with whatever might occur.
Mayor, Town of Kiawah Island