Most emergencies that effect Topsail Beach are weather related events such as tropical storms and hurricanes. This section is provided as a public service to help our citizens and visitors to prepare for these events and deal with the aftermath.
If an evacuation is ordered, the Town's administrative offices, Police Department and Fire Department will relocate to an off-island Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Phone numbers for the EOC will be posted on the home page of this web site.
The Town of Topsail Beach works to refine and improve its Hurricane Plan on a continual basis. In addition, the three Topsail Island Towns are finding ways to coordinate and improve the efficiency of re-entries. Information contained herein is intended to be just a small part of what your Hurricane Planning should include.
Although each of the island's towns has a separate disaster plan, the towns work together to coordinate evacuation and re-entry procedures as necessary. The three towns recommend you follow some basic guidelines and learn important terminology in the event of a hurricane or severe storm threatens the area. Planning and preparation is the key to minimizing damage and insuring the town's services are restored as quickly as possible. Please review this information completely and begin planning your responses today.
Before HURRICANE SEASON make your plans as to what you intend to do if a hurricane threatens. Topsail Beach residents should plan to leave their homes. Decide now where you will go and how you will get there. In an evacuation, public shelters will be opened, but these should be used only as a last resort. If possible you should plan to stay with a friend or relative or in a motel well inland. Regardless of your actions, plan on supporting yourself and family for 72 hours. The Atlantic hurricane is from June to November, but the most active hurricane months are August, September and October.
If a HURRICANE WATCH is issued for Pender County, a hurricane is threatening, but not necessarily imminent. Fuel and service family vehicles, and continue to monitor radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for bulletins. A hurricane watch means it is possible that the watch area may have hurricane conditions in 24 to 48 hours.
If a HURRICANE WARNING is issued for Pender County, it is very possible that the county could experience hurricane conditions in less than 24 hours. Listen constantly to radio and TV and begin preparing for the storm. When landfall is expected within 24 hours, Emergency Departments will notify residents and visitors of an evacuation.
1. Prepare for high winds.
2. Anchor objects outside.
3. Protect windows and other glass.
4. Boats on trailers: move close to house and fill with water.
5. Boats in water: check mooring lines and leave them.
6. Take valuable and personal papers.
7. If you have to evacuate leave as soon as possible. Driving conditions may deteriorate
Evacuation orders from each town provide and organized and coordinated exit from the island. As a guideline, the towns issue an evacuation orders approximately 24 hours before the expected landfall. You can learn of an evacuation order by listening to local media, watching the local cable access channel for the evacuation message or listen for emergency vehicles announcing and sounding sirens after a state of Emergency is declared and an order to evacuate is issued.
Main evacuation routes leaving Pender County (Highways 210,50 and 53) flood quickly during heavy rains. You may want to leave the island before the evacuation order to avoid increased traffic.
When evacuating take supplies such as non-perishable foods, water, medication, first aide kit, candles, matches, flashlights, radio, extra batteries, can opener, blankets, pillows, driver's license, insurance papers, property inventory, cash or checks (ATM machines and banks in the area could be shut down for days or weeks), reading material and plenty of patience.
AFTER LANDFALL AND RE-ENTRY PROCEDURES
No two evacuation or re-entry processes will be alike, and it is difficult to predict a time frame of when re-entry will occur. Town officials are aware that everyone will be anxious to return to their homes as soon as possible, but two things must occur before residents and property owners are allowed re-entry:
Damage Assessment Teams must complete evaluation reports so the Town will be eligible for federal disaster assistance (this could take several hours or days depending on the severity of the storm). A relative amount of safety must be established (roads and debris need to be cleared for safe passage).
Re-entry may have to be restricted for a while even after damage is initially assessed and roads made passable. The public's understanding and cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Police will be located at each bridge to the Island, to check Re-Entry Stickers or identification indicating property ownership or residency.
New re-entry annual stickers were mailed to residents and property owners on their May water bill. Stickers issued before that the current year will not be honored for re-entry. New residents who need a sticker should contact Town Hall. Place it in your glove compartment so it can be transferred to another vehicle if needed. If you do not have a sticker, reasonable identification will be accepted as a re-entry pass, such as a driver's license, recent water, tax, or electric bill indicating local ownership or residency.
Re-entry stickers are issued as follows:
Properties with one owner - receive one sticker on their water bill
Properties with multiple owners - one sticker will be sent to the address on the water
bill. The owners should decide who will be most likely to need the stickers for re-entry.
Person who own more than one property - receive one sticker on their water bill
Families with more than one vehicle - store the top portion of the water bill with the
hurricane re-entry sticker in the vehicle that will be most likely to be used for re-entry
immediately after the storm when road condition may be poor.
Resident who are long-term renters - can obtain one sticker from Town Hall by
presenting proof of residency and picture ID. This should be done before a hurricane
threatens, as Town employees will be extremely busy when the storm is eminent.
If stickers are misplaced or otherwise not available, other forms of proof of ownership or residency, such as a recent utility bill or tax notice and a picture ID, can be used for re-entry. Lost stickers will not be replaced. Damaged stickers will be replaced if the remnants are returned to Town Hall.
The nature and severity of the storms and the level of damage in the Town determine re-entry procedures. Re-entry and access may be allowed to temporarily secure and stabilize property, with no permanent repairs allowed at that time. If you want to designate someone else to secure your property, you must complete a "Post Storm Re-entry Form" and file it with the Topsail Beach Police Department. (Forms should be submitted well before they might be needed because town staff will be occupied with securing buildings and records as a storm approaches.)
All emergency proclamations must be obeyed which typically include items such as: Access limited to your own property, curfews, restricted travel, restrictions on type or number of vehicles allowed, and acceptance of risk upon entering the town during early re-entry. Priority is given to restoring services and insuring that roads are passable. Re-entry access may be terminated at any time to insure restoration of services. All emergency proclamations will be strictly enforced.