Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, is barreling toward part of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, with the potential to become a Category 5 hurricane as it nears shores, according to CNN.
Expected to make landfall Thursday (Sept. 12) night, more than one million people faced mandatory evacuation orders today (Sept. 11). Powerful storm surges and winds will pose deadly threats, as will long periods of heavy rain. Beyond the Carolinas and Virginia, the threat of inland flooding extends into next week to parts of Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania, forecasters said.
At Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which is currently marked to get hit by a portion of the hurricane, Barb Krumm, director of Marketing & Public Relations, told Woodall’s Campground Management that they are in “high gear” as they evacuate residents and lock down the resort.
“We actually started making early preparations at the end of last week,” she noted. “Last Friday we began to receive a few calls and then they began to put us right in the cross hairs of the storm and our Facebook page, which already sees a lot of engagement, started becoming more active and then our phone lines started blowing up.”
A campground that features 859 campsites and 2,566 houses or annually leased sites, Krumm said that there is a lot of work to do anytime they come under a storm warning.
“We were full this weekend and still 85% full on Sunday,” she explained. “Yesterday everything escalated to warp speed and we still had people trying to come in for a night or two.”
Along with the sites, Ocean Lakes also stores 2,600 RVs, so Krumm said there is a combination of people trying to get in touch with the campground’s 200 full-time staffers.
“Homeowners worried about their property, camper owners worried about their stored RV and we even provide golf cart storage, so just a wide variety of people calling with numerous concerns,” she said.
On top of that, Krumm noted that each of their staff members is also trying to worry about their own personal plans to weather the storm. That is why Ocean Lakes depends on their emergency response plan to make it through these types of situations.
“We have got about a 20-page emergency response plan that is broken down for each department and we update it every May or June,” she noted. “It includes all the contact information for our teammates, supervisors and other key people in the company. We also make sure that our critical team members have a letter that will serve as identification if they need to return to the park, because you can’t get through barricades without the proper I.D.”
In the plan Krumm said the campground has outlined every step that needs to happen to secure the facility.
“From the recreation center, to the water park, to the RV center, to the golf cart center, to the maintenance area, to the main office and so on,” she highlighted. “Every area is broke down.
“Our team is doing things like stacking the 700 chairs in the water park and securing them,” she continued. “Moving 100-plus public area garbage cans and all of our eye care station cans into a secure place. Anything that could blow around, we have a whole step by step plan of what needs to happen.”
Krumm said they secure sewer caps, lock the hurricane-proof bathrooms up and secure doors, make sure batteries are charged and that there is fuel in place. They also make sure that everything in the accounting department is secure and that they have all the backups. The important part is ensuring that everything that needs to stay dry, will remain dry.
Ocean Lakes also manages a hurricane Facebook page where updates about the park are posted. Krumm noted that they also do Facebook Live videos that serve to update their campers on what is going on at the park. On their website all information about the hurricane, with links to information, is front and center.
“It’s a lot of communication,” she noted. “And actually, I’ve learned over the years that not only do our guests follow us but area people follow it, too.”
Krumm said that while she is worried about Ocean Lakes, she also worries about some of the parks in North Carolina, which could take direct hits from the storm.
“We would really like to see it turn back out to towards the sea,” she noted.