July 2011

July 2011 Mayors - Hilton Head and Bluffton

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Prepare Now for Hurricane Season

Summer is here! Our beautiful weather has returned, and our kids are finished with school. Outdoor activities and events are in full swing, and at the same time, we’re back in hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a potentially active season—not as busy as last year, but still above average, and still a good reason to take a moment to consider whether or not your plans to safeguard yourself, your family and your home or business from a weather event are all they need to be. Sadly, many times they are not. After a storm, we often see news stories about people who have lost everything and even lack the insurance coverage to allow them to begin rebuilding their lives. We can all learn from these tragic examples and take steps to avoid finding ourselves in a similar situation.

The Town of Hilton Head Island is committed to improving our preparedness for and plans to respond to and recover from the impacts of severe weather. Town staff works continuously at those tasks. Our plans are regularly reviewed, updated, and exercised, and our personnel are trained and ready. Our emergency reserve account, established many years ago so that funds would be readily available to begin recovery efforts should a storm occur, remains in place and strong. The ability this would afford us to immediately begin working to restore our services, infrastructure, and economy is a tremendous advantage.

Another key to our ability to respond effectively and rebound quickly is you. Our residents and business community are our most vital partners, and the plans you make to protect yourself and your family, home, and business do more than safeguard your loved ones and investments. Your effort also truly assists in speeding our overall recovery and the restoration of our quality of life.
To assist you in preparing, we are pleased to provide several resources and services:

The Citizen’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness folder is available at Town Hall,
our Fire & Rescue facilities, and on our website.
(www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/publicsafety/citizensguideemergencyprep.cfm)

An Emergency Permitting and Repair/Rebuilding Guidance brochure is available
at Town Hall and on our website.(www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/publications/brochures/EmergencyPermittingBrochure.pdf)

Our free E-Subscription Service allows you to receive news and updates from the Town during severe weather. Subscribe through our website (http://www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/services/e-subscribe.cfm) and select Hurricane Season Information and Emergency Alerts from the topic menu.

Media releases and announcements will be issued frequently during weather events to keep you informed. These will be transmitted via our E-Subscription service as well as available on the Town website (www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov) and the recorded Hurricane Hotline (800) 963-5023.

Let’s all take a few moments to prepare in case Mother Nature has something other than a peaceful summer planned for us!

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Last month I talked about one of the five goals the town has set over the next five years. This month will be goal number two, which is a “Livable, Sustainable Bluffton Community.” What does this mean to our citizens? It is the choice of livability in neighborhoods and housing, the preservation of Bluffton’s character, the opportunity for all family generations and income levels to live in Bluffton, the protection of property and home values, and greater convenience in the daily lives of our residents. The focus is on striving for a sustainable town, balancing person livability, environmental stewardship, economic opportunities and community building.

Accomplishments pertaining to this goal are the affordable housing program using the NSP Grant and Lowcountry County Government Aid, increasing our police presence which has reduced overall crime by 7 percent, completing the Buckwalter/Simmonsville connectivity to Bluffton Middle School north, and substantially completing the May River Watershed Action Plan.

Early this year, the town was named one of the 32 communities across 26 states to be initial participants in the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program. We received technical assistance during a daylong session, which helped in achieving the sustainable planning goals as part of our Unified Development Ordinance Overhaul project.

During our recent workshop regarding our strategic plan, we formed a partial task list. Some of the items suggested were: to improve access to and more usability of our current parks; complete the Wharf Street redevelopment project; expand our current housing opportunities for all generations and income levels; develop a volunteer program to engage citizens in government and pursue a Tree USA designation; improve town connectivity by streets, trails, sidewalks and blueways; work on development of major community destinations; and focus on the comprehensive plan, land use and development regulations.

Next month I will go over goal number three, “Town Govern: Excellent Services, Financially Responsible.”

As always, visit our website at townofbluffton.sc.gov for more information on this goal and our strategic plan. Video of the daylong retreat and more detailed information on our accomplishments and goals is also available online.

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