BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - With the 2013 hurricane season looming, emergency management officials in Beaufort County want to make sure their message is heard loud and clear.
Officials stress that the messenger as just as important as the message. If the information pertaining to Beaufort is not from their team, residents could be putting themselves at risk.
"It's extremely critical to get the correct information out to the public, and here in Beaufort, and the only way to do that is to have one avenue," said Todd Ferguson, director of Beaufort County Emergency Management Division.
That one avenue is in the county's emergency operations center. That's where city, county and law enforcement leaders coordinate and then give the media what people need to know to stay safe.
"So if people see information, and it isn't coming from our team and the media we have with us, then i wouldn't take it as factual until you do see it," Ferguson said.
He added that sometimes you're going to see things that may raise a red flag, but it's not always the case.
"We're the staging area for folks that are further north than us. So just because you see a bunch of national guard or perhaps a lot of state troopers stuff like that, it doesn't actually mean something's coming on in Beaufort County," he said.
Getting critical severe weather information out and battling complacency can a big hurdle up and down the coasts, which have been spared from severe weather for nearly 15 years.
"A lot of folks either haven't been here or are new to the area and they're just not aware or think that it's going to happen here and I hate to say it, but it eventually it will, and we need to be prepared for it," Ferguson said.