How does Coastal Carolina University handle the evacuation of students?
Once an evacuation order has been issued by the governor, it is the CCU president's decision on whether or not to close campus and evacuate the residence halls.
If the president decides to evacuate the residence halls, students who live in on-campus University housing, which includes University Place, are notified to activate their personal evacuation plans. These are plans that all residents must have in place prior to the start of the semester and that University Housing has on file for each student.
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 weather event.
How we coordinate with other colleges and universities for receiving our students during an evacuation:
As our emergency management department begins to track 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 we don't release where we have taken the students:
We communicate the details of the evacuation location to the students (whose personal evacuation plan 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.
When does the University begin monitoring for potential hurricanes that may threaten the campus?
CCU Emergency Management begins monitoring all tropical activity long before it develops into a tropical storm or a hurricane that threatens the South Carolina coast. We monitor tropical activity throughout hurricane season and coordinate with state and local emergency management offices, the National Weather Service, and Coastal’s own Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) project team for the most up-to-date forecast information. CCU’s HUGO project team provides a hurricane season forecast outlook which is updated periodically throughout the year.
What are the main hazards associated with a hurricane that would impact the campus?
High winds and gusts, heavy rainfall and inland flooding, and tornados are hazards that have the ability to 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.
Would CCU close campus if a hurricane is forecast for our area?
The campus is not located in an evacuation zone. However, to safeguard the University community, CCU will close and clear the campus when a hurricane evacuation order is issued for Horry County. Once the governor makes the decision to issue a hurricane evacuation order for Horry County, the CCU president will announce that the University is moving to Emergency Operating Level 1. Classes will be canceled, administration and staff offices, and residential facilities will be cleared and closed. The decision will be made as early as possible to allow for the safe movement of resources and the evacuation of residential students.
The Office of University Communication (UC) will communicate with a brief CCU Text Alert and with 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. UC will also communicate 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.
Would CCU evacuate residence halls for a hurricane?
The president will announce a specific date and time for the closure of campus in the event of a hurricane evacuation order for Horry County. All University housing will be cleared and closed. 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 Evacuation Plan. Residential students who have absolutely no way of evacuating will be transported to another university 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.
Why is the University taking action when the hurricane is still days from landfall?
Hurricane evacuation is coordinated by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, and the governor is the only one who can issue a hurricane evacuation order. The evacuation decision must be made 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 and an evacuation order of the vulnerable hurricane evacuation zones 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 Management Team 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 for the area?
All students should have a Personal Evacuation Plan (PEP) whether they live on-campus or off-campus. Residential students are required to complete their PEP 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. Everyone needs an emergency supply kit and that is one of the reasons we provide a free emergency 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, possibly without power, for at least 72 hours. Below are general guidelines to help you prepare for a hurricane. Specific instructions will be released by University Communication 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.