Hurricane Season Frequently Asked Questions


In South Carolina the Governor is the only one who can call for a mandatory evacuation.

It is possible that the Island and other low-lying areas along the coast could be evacuated without the rest of county or state.

Such an order would only come from the Governor. Notices of mandatory evacuation generally would be announced at news conferences and through area media, including the state and Town's social media.

If you leave before a mandatory evacuation, you may travel in any direction you wish. After the evacuation order is issued, routes of travel will depend on where traffic control points are put into place.

Once the control points are in place, traffic will have a pre-determined flow.

By leaving early, you may avoid potentially heavier traffic that may result from a mandatory evacuation.

Hospitals and other medical facilities are required to evacuate when the Governor orders a mandatory medical evacuation. This will normally happen prior to a mandatory public evacuation.

Evacuations are not determined by the category of storm.

The Governor uses all available resources including the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service and local governments to determine the possible storm impacts to South Carolina.

The potential impacts of a storm are what drive the decision to order an evacuation.

There is no longer a voluntary evacuation notice in South Carolina. If an evacuation is ordered, it will be mandatory.

Whenever a storm threatens our area, the Town will use all available communications and media to alert and inform the public.

You should shut off your propane at the tank prior to evacuating. If you have a portable tank it should be secured outside before you leave. Secure the tank so it does not damage your or your neighbors' property.

Shutting off your water is good idea and should be done at the shutoff valve in your yard if you have one. If you do not have or cannot locate your shutoff valve, please contact your Public Service District (PSD) now. Do not wait until we have an approaching tropical storm or hurricane. Your PSD can assist you in locating your water shut off.

The SC Department of Transportation is responsible for the bridges and has the authority to close them.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office may use a point prior to the bridges to manage the re-entry process. We do not plan to control entry prior to a hurricane event, but will manage the re-entry process from at a traffic control point.

The Town does not have the authority to order that power and water be cut off.

Palmetto Electric Cooperative will not voluntarily cut off power to customers, and recommends leaving the power on when you evacuate.

The public service districts do not voluntarily cut off the water to their systems. If you cut off the water, remember to also shut off the water to your hot water heater and other appliances that use water.

Beaufort County has developed a county-wide evacuation plan for those who need assistance evacuating. There are six strategically located pickup points around the Island for those who need help evacuating.

If you are unable to get to one of the designated pickup points, you can request additional assistance through our Special Call Pickup Program. Once an evacuation has been ordered, just call the Hilton Head Fire Rescue Dispatch Center at 843-682-5125 to request evacuation assistance. The dispatcher will take your information; Fire Rescue personnel will make arrangements to pick you up and take you to the Beaufort County evacuation point at the Hilton Head Island Airport.

There are no hurricane shelters on Hilton Head Island or Beaufort County.

All Hurricane Shelters are inland.

There are identified emergency shelters for non-hurricane or post-hurricane sheltering on Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County.

Hurricane Preparations

At this time, the Town does not provide sand or sandbags. However, we are evaluating the possibility of providing bags and sand free of charge to residents at a self-service location on the Island.

No. You are not permitted to use sand from our Island beaches to fill sandbags.

The Town has agreements with most of the larger gated communities in which roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

The Town inspects critical drainage infrastructure every year prior to hurricane season and performs maintenance as necessary.

In advance of a hurricane warning, the Town will pump down drainage systems where it can, lower gates and advise POA managers to do the same with their operable control gates. This provides for greater storage of runoff from intense rainfall conditions.