Today, the town participated in a conference call with Charleston County Emergency Management Department and regional counterparts to discuss Hurricane Florence. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina this morning and is moving at a very slow pace to the southwest dumping significant rain to the areas in its path. The information below is based on the expected impact at this time. Due to the nature of this storm, conditions are subject to change. At this time, Governor McMaster has not indicated when he intends to lift the evacuation order.
With respect to the Charleston area and Kiawah impacts, the various models and predictions have taken us on a roller coaster ride over the last few days. The latest forecast suggests that winds will pick up late this afternoon around 4 p.m. Sustained winds could be in the 30 mph range, with gusts reaching tropical storm strength. These conditions could last throughout tonight and through the day tomorrow. Along with the wind, rainy conditions are expected for most of the weekend.
Likely Conditions on Kiawah:
Property damage isn’t likely with these conditions, but the combination of wet/saturated soil and higher than average winds can still uproot trees, break limbs and scatter debris. Disruption of power remains possible. While pond levels are low, some flooding remains possible, which could be exacerbated by the high tides noted below:
– Saturday: 12:49 a.m. and 1:34 p.m.
– Sunday 1:39 a.m. and 2:28 p.m.
Current Island Access:
Right now, Charleston County deputies continue to provide controlled access to Kiawah to residents and essential staff. Post-storm, access to the island will be restricted during the damage assessment. If the assessment indicates that roads are not passable, residents will not be able to get back on until the roads are passable.
The storm has not reached Kiawah and if you are considering traveling to the island, we would discourage you for several reasons:
– Kiawah is still under the mandatory evacuation order issued by the governor.
– Conditions could become severe during travel this evening or tomorrow.
– We still have the potential for loss of power to the island.
– All businesses on and near the island are closed.
– Public safety support (security, fire and EMS) are largely off the island and response times may be delayed.
Post Storm Re-Entry to the Charleston area and Kiawah:
Tomorrow, we will have a better gauge on what the storm will bring and re-entry time frames. Kiawah’s re-entry plans are contingent upon the storm passing and access to the Charleston area.
Governor McMaster has to first lift the evacuation order. Mayor Weaver will then work with all the entities to open the island as quickly as possible and will announce re-entry date and time. Re-entry is contingent upon the completion of road damage assessment which includes assessing debris, flooding and general safety conditions of the roads. The main arteries of Kiawah Island Parkway, Governors Drive, and Ocean Course need to be navigable. The damage assessment is tentatively scheduled to begin Sunday at 7 a.m.
Electricity and Sewage System:
In regard to electricity, the best-case scenario is that power is present island wide. However, it is possible that power will be interrupted. The town will permit re-entry to the island prior to full power being restored; however residents should expect uncomfortable conditions such as the absence of hot water, refrigeration and HVAC systems.
Kiawah Island’s sewage systems depends on a series of electric pumps to remove the waste water. If this occurs, residents will need to reduce flushing in order to avoid a backup of the waste water system on the island.
All of this is subject to change if storm conditions change.
– 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. Berkeley Electric Cooperative will have crews on-site at key locations to monitor water levels. In the event that water levels threaten to flood the substations, the decision will be made to shut them down before suffering catastrophic damage. Although this may be inconvenient, this process will actually speed up recovery times.
– Debris management crews are on standby and will be deployed as soon as possible.
– Commercial access to the island is closed.
– The Station is closed but gas pumps are on for credit purchases as long as there is power to the island.
– KICA’s pond system has been set to max drainage since Tuesday in anticipation of heavy rain and flooding.
– County traffic is not being restricted on I-26.
– Please be aware there are strong rip currents and high surf along the Atlantic Ocean. Please do not enter the water.
– If conditions warrant, critical public safety services including Fire and EMS may withdraw their equipment and personnel from the island.
– If conditions are severe, power and water systems could be shut down. If that were to happen we will communicate that message promptly.
– If you have special needs regarding medical assistance, contact the Disabilities Resource Center at (843) 225-5080.
– Charleston County Citizen Information Line is open 24 hours daily at 843-746-3900.
– For Freshfields Village store operations, visit www.freshfieldsvillage.