SC Prepares for Hurricane Season with Major Drill Tuesday - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

SC Prepares for Hurricane Season with Major Drill Tuesday

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South Carolina -
The 2013 hurricane season started June 1, and South Carolina will make sure it's ready by going through a major hurricane drill Tuesday.

State and local agencies will be involved in practicing what they would do to reverse traffic to evacuate people from the coast faster.

The Highway Patrol and SC DOT, two of the main agencies involved, will have people and equipment set up at entrances to I-26 between Columbia and Charleston, for example.

Crews will do everything except actually block cars from getting on the highway headed toward Charleston, which is what they would do during an actual evacuation.

LCpl. Brent Kelly of the Highway Patrol says, "Everybody that's involved with the drill will know exactly what they need to do and exactly where they need to go, so that we can get everybody off of the coast as quickly and safely as possible."

Drivers will see those crews also on U.S. 501, S.C. 544, U.S. 378 and U.S. 21.

Crews from the Department of Natural Resources, State Law Enforcement Division, Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, State Forestry Commission, Civil Air Patrol, South Carolina National Guard and local law enforcement will take part.

The state created a lane-reversal plan after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Then-governor Jim Hodges decided not to block I-26 headed into Charleston and reverse lanes so drivers could use all of them to get away from the coast. That led to bumper-to-bumper traffic from Charleston all the way to Columbia.

Even if you don't live near the coast or won't be visiting there during hurricane season, a hurricane evacuation could affect you.

Highway Patrol Commander Col. Mike Oliver says, "On a full coastal evacuation, of those 760-some-odd troopers that we have today, we will send 510 of those troopers to support the full coastal evacuation. That leaves a very small amount of troopers to continue day-to-day operations in our field troops."

LCpl. Kelly says, "The biggest thing would be is just be patient with us, 'cause if they ever do that evacuation, that's going to tie a lot of troopers up, 'cause the main goal is clearing that coast out to get those people away from the coast. But if something happens in the Upstate, the message is just to be patient with us. If something does happen, we will get to you; it just make a little bit longer, but we will get there."
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