Hurricane Joaquin was updated to a Category 4 storm Thursday morning.
Chesterfield County Emergency Management Director Harold Hainey urges residents to either assemble or update their disaster kits. Those in flood-prone areas need to make plans and take precautions before the storm hits, he said.
Hainey said the county does have American Red Cross shelters, which will be set up in local schools throughout the county. The shelters will open if necessary along with state and Red Cross support.
At this time, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and partner state agencies have upgraded the state’s operational condition to Level 4, the second-lowest of five operational conditions. State agencies are able to make preparations for any potential effects from Hurricane Joaquin and any heavy rainfall from the separate weather system.
“Even if Hurricane Joaquin heads out to sea, the entire state could experience significant flooding from heavy rains that are predicted,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said. “We’ve already seen flooding in many parts of South Carolina, these storm systems could make conditions worse.”
Hainey passed on some suggestions to get prepared.
• Keep supplies in vehicles, top off fuel, secure important documents. If the storm approaches South Carolina, individuals and families should fill up their cars with gas.
• Have road maps, nonperishable snack foods, a first-aid kit that includes a supply of your family’s prescription medications and convenience items such as diapers in the car. Secure important documents in waterproof packaging.
• Consider the safety of pets. Pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters. You should plan to board pets with veterinarians, kennels or other facilities in non-vulnerable areas. Identification and rabies tags should be attached to the pets’ collars.
Duke Energy is also preparing for the storm and making sure it will have adequate equipment, supplies and personnel available in case of outages.
The company also provided tips for customers who may be affected.
• Check supplies of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable foods, medicines, etc. Also, ensure a portable battery-operated radio, TV or NOAA radio is on hand.
• Families who have special medical needs or elderly members should closely monitor weather forecasts and make plans for potential alternate arrangements should an extended outage occur.
• Charge cellphones in advance of the storm to stay connected to important safety and response information.
Chesterfield County residents can check the Chesterfield County Emergency Management Facebook page for updates.