Pawleys Island Town Council members held an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3 to consider and approve a local state of emergency as Hurricane Dorian continues to threaten South Carolina.
Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri briefed the four Town Council members who were present on preparations. Councilman Ashley Carter was not present.
Police Chief Mike Fanning also talked about the Town’s work with other first responders, the S.C. Department of Transportation and with the South Carolina National Guard.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, hurricane warnings were issued up to the South Santee River, which marks the county line between Charleston and Georgetown counties. A hurricane watch and storm surge watch were put into effect for the rest of coastal South Carolina and into North Carolina, including the Waccamaw Neck of Georgetown County.
“This is the fourth or fifth time in six years” we’ve faced a hurricane or storm, Fabbri said, “so we’ve had plenty of practice.”
He said the Town would most likely not do sand scraping after the storm, since the long-awaited beach renourishment project is expected to get underway about the first of October.
“Depending on what kind of damage we may have, the state and Army Corps of Engineers may be willing to let us start early, but we don’t know that right now.”
Close to 20 people were in the new Town Hall conference room, and someone asked about returning to the island after the hurricane passes by.
Chief Fanning said that once the storm has cleared out, “we will get with Midway (Fire Rescue) and do an inspection of the island. Then, they will come back and do a more thorough inspection of the island.”
Council members agreed they will have a meeting at Town Hall at 9 a.m. Friday to assess the situation at that time and decide if people could be allowed to return to the island. For any Town Council members who can’t make it in person to the meeting, Fabbri said, he would set up an electronic means for them to participate.
With the underground wiring project completed, electricity will not be cut off to the island.
Water – there’ll be plenty of rain and salt water from the ocean. Drinking water will not be totally cut off to the island.
“I checked with Georgetown County Water and Sewer District,” Fabbri said. “They don’t know when. They won’t cut off the water completely. They will reduce it to 25 percent, because of the possibility of fire.”
In the general discussion, Fabbri suggested that people turn off their household water and electricity, if they are comfortable in doing so.
Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for coastal areas of South Carolina, including the Waccamaw Neck. Pawleys officials initially set that deadline to be off the island at noon on Wednesday. Since Hurricane Dorian stalled for so long in the Bahamas, however, Fabbri and Fanning said they would agree in general that a 5 p.m. Wednesday evacuation would be acceptable.
As for returning to the island after the storm, as previously mentioned, Council plans to meet at 9 a.m. Friday to make that decision.
Someone asked, “What will we need to get back on the island?”
“One of the benefits of a small town,” Fabbri said, “is we know most everybody.” Property owners and contractors will be allowed on the island sooner.
“What we want to prevent is sight-seers,” Fanning said. “People who want to get back on the beach.”
Following the discussions, Council member Sarah Zimmerman read a prepared motion, “Declaring a state of emergency exists within the Town of Pawleys Island, and authorizing the appropriate action to be taken in connection therewith. Most importantly, the emergency procurement procedures provided in the Town’s municipal code.”
Council adjourned after that motion was passed.