Protect People

Turn Around Don’t Drown

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than any other storm-related hazard. Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult; just 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

Flood Warning Signals

Stay connected to always be ready for a flood. Flood warning signals include heavy rainfall, fast flowing and rising streams/rivers, consecutive storms, and pooling water along streets or in low-lying areas.

  • A flood watch means conditions are favorable for a flood or flash flood. During a flood watch, plan for the possibility of a flood and stay connected to the local news, weather channel, or radio station for the latest information.
  • A flood warning means a flood/flash flood is occurring or imminent. Protect yourself and others from the flood and evacuate immediately if advised.

Know Your Zone: Evacuation Routes & Shelters

Evacuation Safety Tips

  1. Prepare NOW:
    • Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.
    • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
    • If flash flooding is a risk in your location, then monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain.
    • Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response. The evacuation route from the City of North Myrtle Beach and points northward is to take SC Highway 9 north to Interstate 95 (I-95) and beyond.
    • Make sure your family has a safe designated meeting place in case you are separated.
    • Build an emergency kit
    • Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
    • Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you’ve built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
    • Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
    • Protect your property: Move valuables to higher levels.
      • Declutter drains and gutters.
      • Install check valves.
      • Consider a sump pump with a battery.
  2. Survive DURING:
    • Depending on where you are, and the impact and the warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you previously identified.
    • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
    • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
    • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
    • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
    • If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
    • If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go on the roof only if necessary. Once there, signal for help.
  3. Be Safe AFTER:
    • Listen to authorities for information and instructions. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
    • Avoid driving, except in emergencies.
    • Snakes and other animals may be in your house. Wear heavy gloves and boots during clean up.
    • Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock.
    • Avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris and be contaminated. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
    • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery only outdoors and away from windows.

During a Mandatory Evacuation

  • Tune in to local radio or television stations. A Weather Alert Radio can help you stay informed of changing conditions.
  • Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank as full as possible. In an evacuation, gas may not be readily available.
  • Have enough cash for a few days; ATM’s may not work during a power outage, and stores might not be able to process debit and credit cards. Be sure to have plenty of small bills, as it may be difficult to get change.
  • Fill necessary prescriptions, and stock up on any necessary medical supplies.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways; two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
  • Avoid low-lying areas. Seek shelter in the highest areas possible.

Safety Tips for Buildings

  • Unplug electrical equipment and small appliances.
  • Turn off gas, electricity, and water to your home.
  • Shut off the electricity at the circuit breakers.
  • Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.
  • Seal vents to basements to prevent flooding.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  • If a building was flooded, check for safety before entering:
    • Do not enter a building if it is still flooded or surrounded by floodwater.
    • Check for structural damage. Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
    • Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter tank.
    • Do not enter a building that has flooded until local building officials have inspected it for safety.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings:
    • Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
    • Use only battery-powered lighting. Flammable material may be present.
    • Look for fire hazards (such as damaged gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces).
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. If possible turn off the gas at the outside main valve. Call the gas company.
    • Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
    • Check for electrical system damage (sparks, broken or frayed wires, or the smell of burning insulation). Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker if you can reach it without stepping in water.
    • Examine walls, floors, doors, windows, and ceilings for risk of collapsing.
    • Watch out for animals that might have entered with the floodwaters.
    • Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

Areas Predicted to Flood During a Hurricane

Map of areas around North Myrtle Beach predicted to flood during a hurricane