BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - After learning some tough lessons during the re-entry process following Hurricane Matthew, emergency management leaders in the Lowcountry are making some changes.
The approach of Hurricane Matthew prompted countywide evacuations in Beaufort County. When the storm passed, many relied on social media for re-entry information regardless of what pass they did or did not have. That led to long lines coming back and lots of confusion.
"They were getting their information from social media sources that were frankly incorrect," said Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, Emergency Management Division Commander. "They were just flat out wrong."
Beaufort County set out to clear the air and revamp the re-entry pass system. They came up with these color-coded passes, each one representing groups of people and time that they're allowed to come back after the storm.
"The purpose of tiers, again, is to get folks back in the order that we need them to provide life safety, life support, and restoration of government services."
It's a four-tier system. Tier one, which represents public safety and government services, some of the first back, all the way to tier four, which includes residents and non-essential businesses.
"The economic recovery of the county is extremely important, but that takes months. We're talking days about the event has occurred."
The passes will be issued Jan. 1 through April 30 each year and will be good for two years. Emergency management officials will also be stepping up their social media presence to make sure there's no confusion in future evacuations.