Living near the coast can be wonderful, with the beach so close by, and all the summer-related activities. It can also be a huge headache during hurricane season, especially when evacuation orders are issued.
Government officials did just that, days before Florence, a then-Category 4 Hurricane was projected to hit the South Carolina/North Carolina coast. A mandatory evacuation was issued for areas that were expected to receive significant storm damage.
Because there were those who were ordered to evacuate, and still made the choice to stay, emergency responders were forced to conduct quite a few water rescues for those trapped by floodwaters. “In the midst of these rescues, a number of users on social media asked, “Why did they not evacuate?,” or “Why are they putting the lives of first responders at risk?” ”(Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer) It’s easy to get frustrated with, or judge those who do not evacuate when orders are issued.
For some, it was simply their decision: they just didn’t think the damage was going to be catastrophic, or maybe they couldn’t get out of work. However, for many, “the privilege of evacuating was one they simply could not afford.”
In 2017, South Carolina ranked 42nd in poverty, with 15.4% of our population making below $24,860 (poverty line) for a family of four. (https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/south-carolina-2018-report/)
Many families in the evacuation areas live paycheck to paycheck, may not own a car, may be elderly, may be disabled, or may not have had the option to leave, since some businesses did not close down, and the employees were still required to work. “Families in these situations lack the resources to leave. Missing a single day of work means they can’t pay basic bills or put food on the table,” according to Dr. B.D. Wortham-Galvin, director of Clemson University’s Master of Resilient Urban Design program.
Some, like Jennifer Demitriu did not evacuate because they were not in an evacuation zone. She says she was still asked, “Why haven’t you evacuated?” Evacuating is not always the safest option. “We did not evacuate because 76 percent of hurricane-related deaths are in vehicles. The flooding on roads is what kills most people, not the wind, and since we are inland where most of the threat is flash flooding, it is logical to dig in.”
People have been told over and over again, “Turn around, don’t drown”, meaning do not go around barricades, and do not go through standing water if you cannot see the road. Barricades and detour signs are there for a reason. Also, don’t get out on the roads at all during and immediately after (until you are told it’s safe) a storm like this, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Dimitriu says the decision to leave needs to be made well in advance of the evacuation order. “Odds of survival are far better at home if the decision to evacuate [is not] made ahead of all the traffic and rainfall. You have to leave at the first hint of real trouble.”
“While these storms can be difficult to predict in terms of paths, we need to focus not just on the point of landfall, but on the larger path thereafter in terms of how officials and residents view emergency preparedness and areas of evacuation,” Wortham-Galvin said.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident while evacuating, or returning home during Hurricane Florence, please contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get in touch to schedule your free consultation. We know a car accident can turn a person’s life upside-down, but we’re here to support you and guide you at every step in your journey toward justice and healing.
Here at the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we have years of experience representing injured victims in South Carolina, and we offer a free initial consultation so we can listen to your story and provide candid advice about what your legal options are. If you choose to hire us, we also work on a contingent-fee basis, which means you don’t pay fees or expenses unless we achieve a settlement or win your case in court.
For tips to help you after a car accident, click here.