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 prepare for these events and deal with the aftermath.
If an evacuation is ordered, the Town's administrative offices, Police Dept., and Fire Dept., 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 a hurricane or severe storm threatens the area. Planning and preparation is the key to minimizing damage and insuring that 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 only be used as a last resort. If possible you should try 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 season 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 hour, 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 them close to house and fill with water.
5. Boats in water: check mooring lines and leave them.
6. Take valuables and personal papers with you.
7. If you have to evacuate leave as soon as possible. Driving conditions may deteriorate quickly.
Evacuation orders from each town provide an organized and coordinated exit from the island. As a guideline, the towns issue 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 aid 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:
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 stickers were mailed to residents and property owners in May, 2008. The new stickers are teal colored and have the Town Seal and the words Re-entry Permit printed on them. Stickers issued before 2008 will not be honored for re-entry. New residents who need a sticker should contact Town Hall. The sticker should be placed on the interior of the windshield above the Inspection Sticker. 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 – two stickers are sent to the address on the water bill.
Properties with multiple owners – two stickers are sent to the address on the water bill. The owners should decide who will be most likely to need the stickers for re-entry.
Persons who own more that one property will receive two stickers only.
Families with more than two vehicles should affix the stickers to the vehicles they are most likely to use for re-entry immediately after a storm when road conditions may be poor.
Residents who are long-term renters can obtain one sticker from Town Hall by presenting proof of residency and a picture ID. This should be done before a hurricane threatens, as Town employees will be extremely busy when a storm is imminent.
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.