September 2015

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

A Note from David Bennett
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS FOR HILTON HEAD ISLAND

As I sit to write this month’s column for CH2 magazine, I can faintly hear news updates from across the room on the Weather Channel. The forecasters are talking about Tropical Storm Danny heading on a direct path toward Puerto Rico as 2015’s first major storm of the season.

Now that I’m an elected official for a community located directly on the Atlantic Coast, I’m definitely more sensitive to such news items. Public safety in the face of storms is obviously an essential component for town governments to be concerned about. Yet for some reason, perhaps because of the relatively few hurricanes that have impacted our island in the past 50 years, I have discovered that too many of my fellow Hilton Head Islanders don’t pay much attention to the annual warnings pronounced each summer by the National Weather Center during “Hurricane Preparedness Week.”

So in case you are one of those who have become dulled and complacent to such warnings—that being prepared is important for the “next big storm”—I want to use this month’s space to give you a gentle nudge that complacency is not smart.

The next six to eight weeks, September and October, have been significant months historically for Atlantic shore storms. This has been especially true along the Carolina shoreline to the north of us; and as we have seen in the past couple of years, late season storms have also become more frequent further to the north along the Maryland and Jersey shores. From what I understand, nearly every one of those storms could have deviated slightly and punched directly into Beaufort County.

Our Town Government website, www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov, has an excellent, illustrated “Hurricane Preparedness” overview as part of our Summer Newsletter, titled “Our Town”. I suggest you download the page and keep it handy for reference. Among the many good tips provided, it also includes Hilton Head’s “After Storm Contact Information Citizen Hotline” phone number. Additionally, we provide a free service for Emergency Alerts via e-mail or text.

Here are three tips that I consider quite useful:

1. Take advantage of technology. Update your contact lists on your phone. Store your financial and other critical records “in the cloud” or on a flash drive that you take with you when evacuating. Purchase a solar powered or hand-cranked charger (they have a nice one at the Red Cross Store online). Make sure everyone in the family has a way to stay in touch.

2. Have a “Go-Bag” ready with essentials that you will need for leaving your home quickly. Persons with medical, cognitive or sensory disabilities should talk with family members, care attendants and/or friends to come up with a plan that works for everyone. Knowing what your abilities are will help you better prepare. Each individual should have a “Go-Bag” ready that includes proper medications and appropriate medical supplies for three-five days or longer. If you have a neighbor with a disability, check and see how they are prepared, and be willing to provide help if needed.

3. Be careful returning. If you have evacuated, be especially watchful and careful once you return home. Make sure all electrical outlets and appliances are dry and free of water before you use them. Do not drink water from the faucet until officially notified it is safe. Watch for snakes, animals and insects. They find their way to higher ground to escape flooded areas.

By being ready with emergency supplies and knowing precisely what to do if a hurricane happens to be heading our way, you and your family and friends can be safer.

You cannot fight a powerful storm, but knowledge is power too. The start of storm season should always serve as a reminder that we are not immune to the devastating effects of rain and high winds. We can all be better prepared by taking simple steps to protect our properties and those we hold dear.

A Note from Lisa Sulka
Renovations Help build a closer community

As Bluffton grows, Town Council is mindful of discovering ways to “build community.” We are happy to announce renovations to town parks are almost complete. That’s important, because our parks are where our community comes together.

Take a look at DuBois Park, located on Boundary Street, and Tom Herbkersman Commons, located at the four-way stop. Both have been refreshed with several amenities, and they look fantastic.

DuBois Park’s improvements include renovations to its landscaping, hardscapes, lighting and irrigation system. The town also installed perimeter fencing, hedges and lighting to improve safety and security at the park. The park remained opened during July as work was completed.

The town contracted with The Greenery, Inc. to install all the improvements to park. The improvements also include the installation of a unique injection system that distributes an all-natural pest control product, comprised of cedar oil, which will be distributed through the irrigation system. Greenbug, Inc., a graduate of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, produces the all-natural product and delivery system used to repel fire ants, mosquitos, fleas, roaches and other insects.

Tom Herbkersman Commons, named after State Representative Bill Herbkersman’s late brother, underwent renovations and additions in June. The work included improvements to landscaping, lighting, hardscape and irrigation.

Pat Rooney, a town planner and landscape architect, designed the layout for both DuBois Park and Tom Herbkersman Commons. The Garden Gate installed the improvements at the Commons.

The Commons is now more inviting, with relocated benches, more lighting and more potted plants, which all accent the replaced oak tree that was planted in December. It is a place in the center of Old Town that invites you to sit and watch the various activities of Bluffton, as churches, restaurants, offices and shops are all in view.

In addition, South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) reduced the speed limit on Boundary Street to 25 mph from 30 mph in the area adjacent to DuBois Park. SCDOT installed new signs indicating the change. There are also signs alerting traffic that young people are in the area. I would love to know what you think about them; if you like them, you should thank our staff for coming up with the design.

The reduction in speed at Boundary Street was a direct result of the feedback we heard from residents who wanted a slower speed to ensure more safety. The town is thankful for the residents who shared their input, and we are pleased that the state partnered with us to make it happen.

We are proud of Bluffton’s parks, and we are so pleased you are enjoying them, too. 

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