Can Beaufort County residents return to the county during the evacuation?

This morning (Monday), Sheriff P.J. Tanner, along with county and municipal elected and appointed officials representing Bluffton, Beaufort, Hilton Head Island and Port Royal, held a press conference regarding the evacuation order for Beaufort County ahead of Hurricane Dorian. As of 12:00 p.m. today, South Carolina Governor McMaster’s evacuation order went into effect for Beaufort County—all areas. Key points from the press conference include the following:

For your own safety: This is a powerful, dangerous and unpredictable storm, we urge Beaufort County residents and guests to follow Governor McMaster’s evacuation order. Make good decisions for yourselves, your loved ones and your pets and evacuate inland and away from storm impacts to safety.

The lane reversal on U.S. 278 Hilton Head Island westbound into Bluffton: One eastbound lane to Hilton Head Island will remain open throughout the evacuation. This will allow those returning to Hilton Head Island access to their homes and businesses. If tropical storm winds— possibly hurricane strength winds—arrive in Beaufort County on Wednesday as current forecasts suggest, and for those who do not evacuate, we strongly advise you not to drive onto/over bridges and causeways, and to avoid driving in general.

During the evacuation, motorists will be able to drive in and out of Beaufort County. In the event there is a significant impact from Hurricane Dorian, and the implementation of a re-entry plan becomes necessary, law enforcement roadblocks/checkpoints may be in place to prevent motorists from entering Beaufort County, or specific areas within Beaufort County.

Beaufort County government offices and schools will be closed Tuesday, September 3, and will remain closed until further notice.

Hospitals, Shelter, Transportation and Evacuation Routes

Area Hospitals

The Beaufort Memorial Hospital is currently open. The following information was posted on the Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s Facebook page:“Beaufort Memorial Hospital has received a waiver to shelter in place during the passage of Hurricane Dorian, allowing the hospital to keep its emergency room open and for critical personnel to stay in the hospital and prepare to care for remaining patients. Officials and staff have begun discharging or transferring patients to receiving facilities per Governor Henry McMaster’s mandatory medical evacuation order. Staff are notifying patients’ family members and officials expect patient transfers to be complete by Tuesday.”

Although Hilton Head Island Hospital is planning to close at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), Hilton Head Island and Coastal Carolina hospitals are currently open. Please read the following statement posted on the websites of the Hilton Head Island and the Coastal Carolina hospitals regarding Monday's status: “We are closely monitoring Hurricane Dorian. Our hospitals (Coastal Carolina Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital) currently remain open to care for patients, however we have cancelled elective surgeries and all outpatient departments are closed for Tuesday, September 3rd and Wednesday, September 4th. We encourage all patients with questions on their surgery times to contact their physician directly. Hospital staff with questions about upcoming shifts should contact their director. It is important to note that the hospitals are not state designated shelters. We encourage patients and visitors to monitor local news stations for updates on the storm and check back here for updates on our operations.” 

Shelter in Jasper County is Open

The hurricane shelter is located at the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, Jaguar Trail, Ridgeland, SC 29936. The shelter opened for Beaufort County residents and guests at noon today, Monday. It is a pet-friendly shelter, but pet owners must bring their own cages, pet foods and leashes.

Those who require a special medical needs shelter are asked to contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) hotline at 855-472-3432 for assistance.

Public Transportation to Shelter

Palmetto Breeze will provide transportation throughout the evacuation and its vehicles will be staged at the following locations:

Beaufort Walmart

Lady’s Island Walmart

Hilton Head Island at Port Royal Plaza (former Sam’s Club)

Bluffton Sam’s Club/Walmart center

If you require transportation to one of the above locations, please call the Palmetto Breeze evacuation hotline at 843-757-5782 to make those arrangements.

Evacuation Routes

Beaufort County residents and guests can enter their address to determine what route they should be taking here

For the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) evacuation route map

Hurricane Dorian

As of 2:00 today (Monday), according to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian was 25 miles northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahamas, was traveling west-northwest at 1 mile per hour, and had sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. 

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office continues to closely monitor developments with Hurricane Dorian. As of today, there still remains uncertainty on what impacts the hurricane will have on Beaufort County, although any impacts are expected to arrive on Wednesday morning/afternoon. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated on Sunday to increase our state of preparedness and facilitate the evacuation for Hurricane Dorian. Our Emergency Services Function partners—state, county and municipal law enforcement, fire, EMS, and other government agencies—are in place to streamline communication and further coordinate resources needed in anticipation of impacts from Hurricane Dorian. Residents and guests can expect to see an increased presence of law enforcement and National Guard personnel throughout Beaufort County. 

Have a Personal Plan

Ahead of Hurricane Dorian, and for the evacuation, we urge Beaufort County residents and guests to review their personal plans. For information on developing a personal plan, please download the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management mobile app:

Visit the National Hurricane Center Website

Until our next update, Beaufort County residents and guests are encouraged to monitor Hurricane Dorian through the National Hurricane Center

Where to Stay Up-To-Date

The Sheriff's Office will keep you updated on Hurricane Dorian through NIXLE and the following sites: 

Avoid Misinformation on Social Media

In the event of a public safety emergency or natural disaster, please look to federal, state, county and municipal government officials, as well as trusted print, radio and television media for information and instruction. We urge you to avoid information spread through social media, unless it comes from one of the trusted sources.

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