What are the main hazards associated with a hurricane that could impact the campus?
High winds and gusts, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and tornados are hazards that often times accompany a hurricane and could impact the campus. However, every hurricane is unique in the hazards it brings.
Is the campus susceptible to flooding?
The flooding caused by storm surge does not affect the campus. Rather, it is localized flooding in the low-lying areas on campus that flood during heavy rains. University staff are aware of these areas and have procedures in place to mitigate the issue. However, there are some areas staff will cordon off and allow the water to go down gradually. Always avoid swimming and driving in or through flood waters.
Is Coastal Carolina University located within a hurricane evacuation zone?
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the S.C. Emergency Management Division, CCU is not located in a hurricane evacuation zone. All hurricane evacuation zones in South Carolina are pre-identified and based on storm surge alone. To view the hurricane evacuation zones for Horry County, visit Horry County Emergency Management.
Will CCU close campus if a hurricane is forecast to impact the area?
As a public institution, CCU follows emergency guidance issued by the South Carolina governor and applicable state agencies. The SC Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) is the primary agency for coordination during tropical cyclones and provides briefings on the forecast and current conditions. The Governor will determine if an evacuation and other executive orders are necessary based upon the forecasted impacts.
While campus is not located in a hurricane evacuation zone, the governor may issue an executive order temporarily closing state schools and government offices, including state-supported colleges and universities, located in impacted areas. Historically, the closure executive order is issued following the hurricane evacuation order. CCU is located in a coastal county and as such, is included in the closure order.
If the governor issues the closure order for Horry County, CCU will announce the date and time of the campus closure as early as practical so everyone can prepare accordingly. Residential facilities and administration/staff offices will be cleared and closed, and classes will be paused before transiting to online instruction. A CCU Alert text and email will be issued followed by a detailed email communication. The CCU Text Alert only allows enough characters to get your attention with an abbreviated message. In order to learn the details, you must check your emails frequently. Evacuation and closure information will be communicated in several other ways, including regular updates on coastal.edu/advisory, through social media, and through traditional media outlets. Please refer to the Emergency Notification page for information on how CCU will communicate the closure of campus.
Conversely, the Governor may determine the forecasted impacts do not necessitate the temporary closure of state schools and government offices. In this case, the campus will remain open. If severe weather is forecast for our area, CCU will take precautionary measures to prepare and safeguard the University community. These precautionary measures may include campus services being modified; classes, administration and staff offices operating on an abbreviated schedule, or classes being redirected online. The Emergency Management Department will provide updates to the University community on the forecasted impacts, preparedness actions, and the status of University operations.
Will residence halls close during a campus closure?
Yes, all University housing will be cleared and closed due to the governor’s executive order closing state-supported universities. The University will advise residential students to go home or go home with a friend. University Housing staff will work with residential students to activate their Personal Emergency Action Plan (PEAP). Residential students who have absolutely no way of evacuating will be transported to another institution inland and away from the track of the hurricane for sheltering. Students requiring shelter should be prepared to be out of the area for at least 72 hours. Students are allowed one carry-on size, soft-side bag for essentials such as toiletries, clothing, comfort items and other personal items. Students should be prepared to stay in a congregate sheltering setting such as sleeping in a large gymnasium or recreation area.
How does Coastal Carolina University handle the evacuation of students?
Once the Governor issues an executive order closing CCU, students who live in on-campus University housing, which includes University Place, are notified to activate their PEAP. All residents are required to have a PEAP in place prior to the start of the semester and on file with University Housing. Students are instructed on how to secure their living spaces prior to departure and given a recommended list of items to take with them, including coursework, laptops, phones, chargers, medication, and other necessities.
Once the residence halls close, students are not permitted back in the residence halls for any reason until the University and the residence halls reopen. This information is communicated directly to students with as much advance notice as is possible given the situation. Students who do not have anywhere to go during the evacuation are given the option of evacuating to a safe location with University Housing staff. That location is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on a variety of factors, including the projected track of the hurricane.
How does University Housing find a place for residential students to shelter?
When the Emergency Management Department identifies a possible threat, University Housing initiates a process of contacting colleagues in our region about available space on their campuses. Factors we consider are: location of an evacuation host relative to the possible storm tracks, likely transportation routes to and from our campus, the nature of space and services available at the host site, and, most critically, the space each possible host site has for our possible use.
We have developed relationships at various levels within the institution and in University Housing with colleagues throughout South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and points beyond. We are always humbled by the generosity of our colleagues. It takes a great deal of work on their end just to prepare for us, to say nothing of the effort to safely host us. As decisions are made, there are innumerable details to coordinate with our host and the staff executing our plan on campus.
Why doesn’t University Housing release the location residential students will be sheltering?
We communicate the details of the evacuation location to the students (whose PEAP includes evacuating with CCU) so they can share that with their families, and have daily meetings with them while we are away. Importantly, it is our responsibility not to create a larger disruption than necessary for our host. We do not share information regarding our evacuation more broadly than necessary so as to allow our host the time and courtesy to prepare their campus for our arrival in accordance with their policies and procedures.
Why is the University taking action when the hurricane is still days from landfall?
The governor must make the evacuation decision early to allow state resources to move to the coast, support the evacuation, and to complete the evacuation before the arrival of tropical storm-force winds. Due to these timing considerations, the governor could issue a state of emergency, a hurricane evacuation order, and close the University multiple days before landfall, depending on the approaching storm.
How will I know when I can come back to campus?
Following a hurricane, the University will initiate the recovery process by assessing the campus for damage and hazardous areas. All emergency repairs and debris management activities will take place before the campus is reopened to ensure the safety of the University community. The duration of the recovery phase will depend on the severity of the damages and debris. As the University works through recovery, the CCU Emergency Operations Center will evaluate and communicate the planned return to campus. Once the campus is deemed safe, the University will allow all students and employees to return to campus. The University will not hold classes without giving ample time for students to return. The University will post regular updates on the University’s website at coastal.edu/advisory throughout the recovery process.
What should I do if there is a hurricane forecast to impact the area?
All University community members should have an emergency plan and emergency supply kit. Residential students are required to complete their PEAP when registering for housing to identify if they can evacuate on their own or require assistance. Students that live off-campus need to know if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone so they can make plans to either evacuate or shelter in place. Create or stock your emergency supply kit. The Emergency Management Department provides a free emergency supply kit bag to any member of the University community.
If you live off-campus and are sheltering-in-place, have enough supplies on-hand to be on your own without power for at least 72 hours. Below are general guidelines to help you prepare for a hurricane. The University will release specific instructions as the storm approaches.
- Stay tuned to local media for the weather forecast and monitor the CCU website for updates. Sign up for CCU Text Alerts here.
- Residential students should review the personal evacuation plan they developed when school started, and be prepared to put the plan into action.
- Have an out-of-state point of contact and inform family of the situation.
- Ensure that your emergency supply kit is stocked. Visit Emergency Supply Kit for more information.
- Have cash on hand in case the power goes out and ATM/credit cards cannot be accepted.
- Put all important documents in a protected area.
- Fill your prescriptions.
- Charge your electronics.
- Fill up your vehicle with fuel.