Traveling with ESAs & Pets During a South Carolina Hurricane {Must Read}

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high waves during hurricane in south carolina

If you have an emotional support animal (ESA) or other pet, they are just as vulnerable as you are during a South Carolina hurricane! If you need to evacuate, it is important your animals go with you or are taken to another safe location. Never leave them behind!

The bad weather that a storm or other natural disaster can bring is a scary thing. Your ESA is likely to bring you comfort during any severe storm, but they also need you to keep them safe. Read on to find out more about what you can do to prepare for traveling with an ESA during a South Carolina hurricane.


Mandatory Evacuation South Carolina: ESA Protocol for When You’re in an Evacuation Zone

Officials issue mandatory evacuation orders for good reason! The high winds, heavy rains, power outages, storm surge and flooding that can result from a hurricane can be devastating. When people evacuate an area during an emergency, they should take all animals or pets with them as well. Animals left behind can become trapped, injured, lost, and may not survive the storm conditions on their own.

South Carolina departments coordinate with emergency evacuation shelters for residents to stay in during mandatory evacuations. Sometimes evacuation shelters are able to take animals as well as people, often they cannot. Due to space constraints, they may need to limit animals to service animals only (i.e. a guide dog for someone visually impaired).

Plan and do a little research in advance. Find out where you can go with your emotional support dog in a South Carolina hurricane. Get a list of emergency shelters that may be able to accept animals, any pet-friendly accommodation in your safety zone, and animal shelters that may be able to help keep your animal safe temporarily.

  • Check out the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. They have a website and app with updates and Red Cross emergency shelter locations. They also have advice on boarding animals and evacuation routes. The website is another national resource for information on a particular disaster area or disaster relief.
  • Make sure your emotional support animal letter is up to date! Having an ESA letter is likely to help with validating to any accommodation provider that you have a genuine need to have your animal with you.

evacuation zone mandatory evacuation sign hurricane south carolina

How to Get An ESA Letter To Make Traveling with Your Furkid Easier!            

Because emotional support animals aren’t considered service animals, they are not automatically allowed into all types of public accommodation. However, during an emergency, accommodation providers may waive their usual policies on allowing animals on their premises.

So what is an ESA letter and how can it make it easier to travel? An emotional support animal letter is issued by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) and confirms that you have a condition that is helped by your emotional support animal.

An emotional support animal letter can help not only help with travel and accommodation during an evacuation. It is also a document that can be asked for by law during air travel and when looking for permanent rental accommodation.

Know Your Rights! The 2 Vital Emotional Support Animal Laws

There are 2 important laws that protect ESAs!

If you are able to evacuate by air during a hurricane, under the Air Carrier Access Act you have the right to take your ESA on a plane! You will need to contact the airline or airport in advance. Many airlines have changed their policy that allows ESAs on their flights, so be sure to research the ESA rules and regulations of the airline thoroughly when planning your trip!

Another law that protects the rights of people with an ESA is the Fair Housing Act. Under this Act, property owners must make reasonable accommodation for people with a disability. They cannot deny you accommodation on the basis that you have an ESA, but there are exceptions! Aggressive or disruptive behavior in emotional support dogs (or cats) will not be tolerated!

How to get an Emotional Support Animal Before the Hurricane Strikes: CertaPet’s Simple 5 Min Process

We are able to assist in getting you your ESA letter before, during and after a hurricane – so feel free to contact us any time.

Complete our free online screening to find out if you may be eligible for an ESA letter. If your answers show that you qualify for an ESA, we will put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional in South Carolina to complete the application process.

The Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal with You During Scary Times

The companionship an animal can offer people is precious and priceless. Emotional support animals are there for you during the good and the bad times.

If you are in the middle of a South Carolina hurricane or natural disaster, your ESA will bring you much comfort. Extreme weather is frightening – but you can take the edge off it by knowing in advance, where you can go, and how to travel with your ESA.

The Calming Comfort of an ESA

What is an ESA? An emotional support animal provides therapeutic value to people with various psychological and emotional conditions. This includes things like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so forth. The therapeutic value of these animals is a constant, regardless of the circumstances or conditions around you.

emotional support dog in truck ready for hurricane season south carolina

Hurricane Season South Carolina: Know Your Hurricane Categories!

Hurricanes are measured on a 1-5 scale in terms of wind speed, but also include a lot of thunder, lightning, and rain! A major hurricane is rated between 3-5. The ratings are:

  • 73-95 miles per hour: Category 1
  • 96-110 miles per hour: Category 2
  • 111-129 miles per hour: Category 3
  • 140-146 miles for per hour: Category 4
  • 157 miles per hour, or higher: Category 5

Storms 101: Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones!

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are basically all the same thing. The term used depends on the ocean location they originate from, however, all start as a tropical storm. Tropical storms have high winds between 39 to 73 miles per hour. When winds reach over 74 miles per hour they start falling into a Category 1-5 hurricane, typhoon or cyclone and are given individual names.

The term “hurricane” is used in the North Atlantic ocean and central North Pacific. These are the ones that may hit the South Carolina Coast. In the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, they are called cyclones. Those formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean are called storms.

Be Prepared! NHC and NOAA: Hurricane Tracking Made Easy!

Two national organizations make it easy to keep up to date with hurricane conditions. These are the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They provide the weather updates broadcast by radio and online outlets.

When is Hurricane Season in South Carolina?

Hurricane season in South Carolina is officially 1 June through 30 November. However, the coastal areas of South Carolina are exposed to tropical storms outside of these dates too.

4 of the Worst Hurricanes that Hit the U.S. in Recent Years!

The southern states along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico are the most vulnerable to hurricanes originating from the tropics. Most recently Hurricane Michael has affected many in Florida.

Get to know your areas evacuation zones, and where you and your ESA can go at a moment’s notice in case you need to!

Hurricane Florence South Carolina

Hurricane Florence made landfall in September 2018 and resulted in severe flooding and billions of dollars of damage in South Carolina. The Waccamaw River reached its highest levels ever, and tornados formed in Horry County and Longs. Nine people died in the State either as a direct or indirect result of the hurricane.

Hurricane Irma South Carolina

The Category 5 Hurricane Irma in September 2017 caused major damage in Florida, Georgia, Central, and South America. In South Carolina, a hurricane warning and watch was issued for the duration of the storm.

Hurricane Maria South Carolina

Hurricane Maria, a Category 5, devastated Puerto Rico, and Dominica in September 2017. By the time it reached South Carolina, it caused high tides and dangerous ocean rips.


Hurricane Harvey South Carolina

Hurricane Harvey, in 2017, is equal to Hurricane Katrina in terms of being the costliest cyclone to make landfall in the United States. Southern Texas was the hardest hit with damage, but its effects were felt throughout South Carolina.

emotional support dog sad for south carolina evacuation hurricane

Have Your Dog Emergency Kit Ready for When Those Gulf Winds Pick Up!

Often during an emergency, you need to quickly gather items you are going to need. Having an emergency kit with a few basic items for your ESA is just as important as an emergency kit for yourself. Have these ready to take with you to a safe place in case you ever do need to evacuate due to a South Carolina hurricane.

7 Things to Have in Your Pet’s Kit

During a hurricane, local stores and services may not be able to immediately get the supplies you need. The emergency items you can keep in a kit for your pet include:

  1. Documentation – any vaccination and health records, a recent photograph, your ESA letter, and lists of pet-friendly places to stay.
  2. Dry and canned food and water.
  3. Medications.
  4. Pet carrier and/or leads and harnesses
  5. Bed or favorite blanket or toy
  6. Poop bags and/or litter box
  7. CBD Oil for dogs or a few of their favorite treats to help them through the difficult time.
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Make Sure Your Pets Have Clear Identification!

Sadly, people are sometimes separated from their animals during hurricanes and severe storms. You can help make sure your pet can be identified in a few ways.

  • Use a collar tag with their name, your name, and a mobile number to contact you.
  • Have a photograph of your animal.
  • Have your animal microchipped.

Stay Safe and Do NOT Leave Your Pet/ESA Behind!

Always make sure you bring your animal with you or find them another safe pet-friendly place to stay during a South Carolina hurricane. Any natural disaster is a frightening experience for animals. It is highly unlikely that a pet will survive a natural disaster on its own.

emotional support animal left behind during south carolina hurricane season

Traveling with ESAs During a South Carolina Hurricane: How to Get Connected with an LMHP in Your State Today!

You and your emotional support animal are likely to be of comfort to each other during an evacuation. It will be easier to travel with your emotional support animal during a South Carolina hurricane or evacuation if you have your emotional support letter on hand.

Certapet can help get you started in your preparations by connecting you with an LMHP in South Carolina today. The first step is our free 5-minute online screening.

Common Questions on Traveling with ESAs during a South Carolina Hurricane

Can I take my emotional support animal to an emergency shelter?

What should an emergency kit for an emotional support animal have?

Will an ESA letter help me during an emergency evacuation?

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