South Carolina readies for weather event

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The South Carolina Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with other state and local agencies including the State Emergency Management Division, has activated its emergency response plan in anticipation of record flooding in areas throughout the weekend. The South Carolina Highway Patrol is urging motorists to restrict travel as much as possible until the storm has passed.

Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency Friday evening, which will mobilize additional state resources should they be needed in response to the impending hazardous weather.

SCDPS placed all available personnel and resources on alert yesterday evening to assist county and state partners throughout the weather event. The department also shifted efforts from hurricane preparation to supporting potential localized evacuations due to flooding in low-lying areas. The Highway Patrol and State Transport Police are monitoring the roadways for stranded motorists, hazards such as fallen trees, power lines, debris, and washed-out areas.

“Just as we do with winter weather, we are urging motorists to restrict unnecessary travel, especially in areas of the state prone to flooding and the areas where rainfall is predicted to be the greatest,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “Follow scemd.org closely for closings, road and other emergency information as well as your local news reports.”

Highway Patrol Commander Mike Oliver added:

“Don’t take unnecessary risks. Flash flooding is just what the name suggests. It happens very quickly and cars and pedestrians can be swept away by the force of the water. During hazardous weather, the Highway Patrol urges motorists to only use *HP for true emergencies such as reporting collisions or being stranded in a vehicle.”

SCDPS also urges motorist to MOVE OVER for emergency workers and vehicles.

The reason that many people drown during flooding is because they don’t understand the force of water. It takes only one to two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.

If you must drive in inclement weather, here is what you should watch out for:

n Standing water in the roads;

n Downed power lines, trees or other debris in the roadway;

n Lack of visibility while driving that results from sudden downpours;

n Flash flooding resulting from standing waters, creeks or rivers spilling over their banks and into the roadways.

These are some common mistakes troopers see people make during inclement weather and some tips to stay safe:

n Driving too fast and losing control when they hit standing water/hydroplaning; (watch this video of trooper showing what to do if vehicle hydroplanes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P630qOoEADk)

n Braking too hard and making sudden maneuvers with the vehicle;

n Following other cars too closely and not leaving enough room in case of a sudden stop;

n Motorists should:

· Drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of them and allow ample stopping distance;

· Buckle up;

· Turn on headlights;

· Turn off cruise control.

· Carry a fully charged cell phone and remind family/friends of your route.

For real-time traffic information, consult the Highway Patrol’s web site at http://www.scdps.gov/schp/webcad.asp. For road conditions or traffic cameras, consult the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s web site at www.dot.state.sc.us and www.511sc.org. For current information and safety tips regarding weather-related emergencies, log on to www.scemd.org.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety includes the Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Bureau of Protective Services, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, Immigration Enforcement Unit and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame. Our mission is to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina and its visitors.