Longtime HHI resident evacuating for first time ahead of storm

Longtime HHI resident evacuating for first time ahead of storm

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A mandatory evacuation was called Sunday night for Beaufort County. It began Monday at noon, and hundreds of people have started making their way inland.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday. The two main takeaways to know is that there are no Red Cross approved shelters in the county, which means residents need to leave to reach safety, and also, county and city officials say waiting until Wednesday morning to leave is a bad idea.

The threat Dorian holds for places like Hilton Head Island have longtime residents worried like they’ve never been before.

On Hilton Head Island, one man who has never left for a storm has decided to change his mind this time around.

“Well, it’s my castle. I don’t want to leave that,” Ralph Woodie said.

Woodie has lived on Hilton Head Island for almost 43 years. He never leaves for a hurricane, even when his wife does.

“The wife usually goes to Atlanta, stays with a friend of ours," he said.

He remembers Hurricane Matthew nearly three years ago, and now, he’s a little worried.

“Matthew, we lost 14 trees in the back row and we got two in the house," Woodie said.

Now, for the first time in 43 years, he’ll be leaving the island for a storm.

“Well we have plans to go to Columbia,” Woodie said.

He says he wouldn’t do it if he was on his own, but he has to think about others.

“I can’t make my wife go by herself.”

His family is worried about him.

“My son is very persuasive, said, ‘you have not faced anything like this, Dad,'" Woodie said.

Some, however, are staying put for Tuesday - mainly business owners like David Martin with Piggly Wiggly.

“We’ll be open all day tomorrow. We have enough employees to run it for a 10-hour shift. There are people staying who have not prepared themselves, so we just do it as a fun thing and it becomes a neighborhood thing," Martin said.

Other locals say they’ve watched hurricanes year after year come and miss Hilton Head Island. They are hoping Dorian makes a similar last minute move.

“We always want to be here for our locals, because our local customers, they are our family and friends, so we always want to be there for them," said Dan McAlister, Bartender, Earle of Sandwich Pub.

Many businesses have already closed shop on the biggest weekend of the year for their sales. Some owners are staying open as long as they can.

“It could go either way. Either that, or we are going to say, ‘we’re going to open up.’ We’ll do the best we can with a limited menu and a bar, and serve the people who are here, or we’ll come get our plywood up and board it up and go."

Many tourists were forced to leave their hotels Monday, but others, like Jim Malady, who has been vacationing on the island for more than 20 years, says he wants to stay with the community he cares so much for.

“It’s just such a special community to our hearts, and we want to go through it with this community," he said.

The Hilton Head Island fire marshal recommends that before you leave, you make sure you have a supply kit in your vehicle containing blankets, flashlights, food, water, and first aid supplies. Officials say you should board up your house as much as possible and they urge you to remember to take care of parts of your house that you might not think about before leaving.

“What they do recommend is that if there are things that you can turn off at your house, that you do that. If you can turn off the main water valve at your house, so that that mitigate some issues if something was to happen to your house, and, your propane. If you have propane, make sure it’s turned off before you leave, but all of the utilities will continue work through the storm,” Fire Marshal Joheida Fister said.

Visitors leave HHI after mandatory evacuation

Fister says emergency services will not be available during the storm. They leave the island during the evacuation and recommend that others do the same. She says companies don’t turn off utilities in case your house doesn’t lose power, but if they do get knocked out by the storm, it could take crews days to get them back up.

For all your hurricane updates, visit WTOC’s Hurricane Center.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.