***Matthew Update*** from Chief Reese Bertroff
This message applies to the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal for those areas bound by Neal Road (basically the staples complex) the Woods Bridge, and the Bell Bridge. If you are outside those areas you are serviced by the Burton Fire District or the Lady’s Island Fire District.
Teams worked diligently yesterday route clearing for emergency services to be able to get to all areas of our response districts. We are about 85% there and back in the streets this morning. When you come back, you will be able to get home.
It has come to my attention that there is much frustration about re-entry. It is a process, one that is a function of the evacuation order, and has to be made when everything is in place and safe to come back. This is a standard practice NATION WIDE in disasters. There are MANY CREWS working to restore power, to restore Beaufort Memorial, and to get our town ready for people to come home. Up until about 1830 yesterday we still had NO EMS OR MEDICAL SERVICES in our area. Everyone, including the first responders were on their own. We now are able to send our people back to Orangeburg or Walterboro, an hour and a half ride or better, if injured. The system here cannot sustain that travel time with our entire population in Beaufort. In short order, all ambulances would be tied up in travel. There was a victim of a heart attack in southern Beaufort County the day before yesterday and by the grace of god a USCG helicopter came to get that individual but first, they were treated for TWO HOURS in a lobby of an emergency services shelter. No one wants that for their loved ones.
Here is the correct information.
1. Re- Entry is going to happen, just be patient.
2. Schools and county offices are closed Monday and will be re-evaluted today to see if they will be closed on Tuesday.
2. Emergency services and utilities are working as hard as possible to make it happen as fast as possible.
3. WE APPRECIATE EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU THAT LEFT. THE PEOPLE THAT STAYED BEHIND YESTERDAY MADE OUR JOB THAT MUCH MORE DIFFICULT BY BEING OUT ON IMPASSIBLE STREETS WITH DAMAGED UTILITIES EVERYWHERE!
4. When you return, post re-entry, you will find us able to help you with an injury or property emergency. Now it is still not clear that you would get a timely response.
5. There is damage in Beaufort, trees are down, homes are damaged, but it is all recoverable. There is not wide spread catastrophic damage like there would have been had water come just a foot or two higher and sloshed through our City and Town. Look up pictures of Edisto Beach and you will see homes completely destroyed.
My final thought is this. We here at the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department are your friends and neighbors. We care about you deeply and are doing everything we can. Waiting for re-entry or severity of this storm should in no way influence your decision to evacuate “next time.” That simply is not reasonable.
Re-Entry Hotline 1-800-963-5023
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