In the event of an enforced evacuation, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office — along with local municipalities — will issue re-entry passes to qualified individuals per the Sheriff’s Office’s Incident Emergency Response and Re-Entry Pass System.
How hurricane evacuation passes work
There are two main types of “hurricane passes”: Incident Emergency Response Passes and Incident Re-entry Passes.
These passes are issued from Jan. 1 through April 30 of each year. After that time, no passes will be issued from any participating entity. Some extenuating circumstances may arise if certain exceptions are met. Only the Beaufort County Sheriff can authorize passes outside of the stated time frame.
Re-entry passes are valid for two years. Re-entry passes are issued Jan. 1 and expire Dec. 31 of the second year. For example, a pass issued in 2021 would be valid from Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2022
Upon expiration, it is the responsibility of the passholder and/or agency to re-apply for new passes.
Incident Emergency Response Passes for elected officials expire at the end of their term of office. Incident Emergency Response Passes and the Incident Re-entry Passes are the property of the issuing agency and may be revoked at any time.
How to apply for a pass
To apply for Incident Emergency Response or Incident Re-Entry passes:
- Review the the list of who qualifies for re-entry passes and the requirements of each tier.
- Print your request on company letterhead, stating your name, agency and number of passes requesting for each tier along with a brief description of who will be receiving those passes and their role in a disaster.
- Submit your request to the local jurisdiction where your agency/business operates. All jurisdictions listed here in cooperation and operate under Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Incident Emergency Response and Re-Entry Pass System Memorandum of Agreement:
Who qualifies for Incident Emergency Response Passes
- Personnel who shelter in place
- Public Service District critical personnel
- Public Works and Damage Assessment critical personnel from Beaufort County and surrounding municipalities. (Section III, Part F)
- Beaufort Memorial and Hilton Head Hospital Emergency Room critical personnel. (Section III, Part G)
- Emergency Support Function personnel and other support personnel who actively work within the Beaufort County Emergency Operations Center during activations. These personnel must have the proper training credentials as outlined in Section II, Part F in order to receive their pass.
- Personnel who may or may not shelter in place
- Premise, SLED-licensed security agencies
- Local elected officials for Beaufort County and the surrounding municipalities
- Federal, State, County and Municipal Law Enforcement Personnel
- Fire Personnel
- EMS Personnel
- DHEC Personnel
* Personnel who are not required to carry Incident Emergency Response Passes must have the proper agency and/or law enforcement credentials. Although uniforms are not required, it is highly recommended that every effort be made to wear the appropriate uniform per their agency to the incident. This helps alleviate any delays in entering Beaufort County.
Who qualifies for Incident Re-Entry Passes
- Utility Companies to include Beaufort Jasper Water Sewer Authority, Dominion Electric, Santee Cooper, Palmetto Electric, Century Link and Hargray are not required to carry Incident Emergency Re-Entry passes if they are in their properly marked company vehicles, wearing the appropriate uniform of their employer and carrying the proper credentials of their employer. Each agency must work with Beaufort County in creating an approved “BEAUFORT COUNTY DISASTER RELIEF TEAM” hang tag for unmarked vehicles.
- Debris companies to include Ceres, Crowder Gulf and Tetra Tech are not required to carry Incident Emergency Re-Entry passes if they are in their properly marked company vehicles, wearing the appropriate uniform of their employer and carrying the proper credentials of their employer. Each agency must work with Beaufort County in creating an approved “BEAUFORT COUNTY DISASTER RELIEF TEAM” hang tag for unmarked vehicles.
- Mutual Aid utility workers will be allowed to enter Beaufort County under the four tiers based off the requirements as stated below for each tier.
Tier 1 Incident Re-Entry Passes
For the immediate re-establishment of initial public safety/critical personnel having key roles in life-saving services and the restoration of critical services after a disaster to begin the initial (quick view/“windshield”) damage assessment. All Tier 1 re-entry passholders are required to present and wear their Tier 1 Incident Re-Entry Passes at all times during a disaster.
Examples of issuance for Tier 1 access are stated below:
- Governmental services’ critical personnel who will help stabilize and execute immediate/emergency primary road “First Push” efforts to include but not limited to damage assessment, engineering, public works and recovery.
- Critical personnel who play a key role in rescues and immediate life safety conducted through agencies that are under contract with Beaufort County and the surrounding Municipalities. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
- Critical personnel needed to assess the integrity of governmental facilities necessary for the re-establishment of government services.
Tier 2 Incident Re-Entry Passes
Essential Support Personnel
For the continued re-establishment of essential personnel having key roles in life support services after a disaster. All Tier 2 re-entry passholders are required to present and wear their Tier 2 Incident Re-Entry Passes at all times during a disaster.
Examples of issuance for Tier 2 access are stated below:
- Utility companies (that are not listed under Section III, Part E) under contract with Beaufort County or the surrounding municipalities whose essential personnel play a role in helping re-establish utilities to Beaufort County
- Debris removal companies (that are not listed under Section III, Part E) under contract with Beaufort County and/or the surrounding municipalities whose essential personnel play a key role in clearing the roadways. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
- Essential personnel needed to restart basic governmental services to include but not limited to codes enforcement, public works, engineering, damage assessment and recovery
- Essential personnel from Beaufort County Animal Services
- General managers and engineers of hardware stores who are in support of emergency operations, for the initial damage assessment of their facility and who have a valid contract with the requesting jurisdiction. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
- Essential personnel from qualified support groups or relief workers from nonprofits to support the response and recovery operations with food, water etc. Passes will be based on identified critical needs within Beaufort County. CHARTER DOCUMENTATION MAY BE REQUIRED.
- General managers and engineers of organizations that maintain their own infrastructure and who have their own security (SLED-certified) force. On-site SLED-certified security must be 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year to qualify for passes. The number of passes to be issued will be at the discretion of the emergency manager of the jurisdiction and the Emergency Management Steering Committee. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
- Organizations under contract supporting Beaufort County and the municipalities’ services during a disaster. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
Tier 3 Incident Re-Entry Passes
Support personnel, approved through the Emergency Management Steering Committee, whose functions are deemed an asset to Beaufort County during times of a disaster to assess their facilities. All Tier 3 re-entry pass holders are required to present and wear their Tier 3 Incident Re-entry Passes at all times during a disaster. Examples of issuance for Tier 3 access are stated below:
- General managers, IT managers and engineers for hotels
- General managers and engineers of nursing homes
- General managers and engineers of rehabilitation centers/medical centers/assisted living facilities IF they are responsible for evacuating their patients AND are responsible for bringing them back. COPY OF PLAN REQUIRED.
- General managers of grocery stores
- Grocery stores that prove they have a generator on site as part of their infrastructure (generator must power up the entire store to include the cash registers) can request additional Tier 3 re-entry passes. The number of passes to be issued will be at the discretion of the emergency manager of the jurisdiction.
- Grocery stores that prove they have the connectivity (infrastructure must be wired) for a generator (connectivity for the generator must power up the entire store to include the cash registers) can request additional Tier 3 re-entry passes. The number of passes to be issued will be at the discretion of the emergency manager of the jurisdiction.
- Grocery stores that are requesting re-entry passes under Section VI, Part A4 (a)(b) must submit proof in writing to include photographic evidence. Requests are subject to inspection by the emergency manager of the jurisdiction where requested.
- General managers of pharmacies
- General managers of gas stations
- Hardware store (that qualify under Section V, Part A5) support personnel who are needed to make the store functional. Discretion of the number of passes to be issued will be left to the emergency managers of the jurisdiction.
- Organizations that qualify under Section V, Part A7 and A8 contracted debris removal company’s essential personnel that play a key role in clearing the roadways. COPY OF CONTRACT REQUIRED.
- Branch managers and IT managers for banks
Tier 4 Incident Re-Entry Passes
Businesses supporting the re-entry and transition to recovery process. This can include:
- Landscaping companies
- Tree-trimming companies
- Residential construction companies
- Grocery stores and pharmacies
- Gas stations
- Medical urgent care companies
Businesses qualified under Section VII, Part A1 shall be eligible for Tier 4 Incident Re-Entry after displaying a current business license for the jurisdiction/municipality in which they desire to enter. The current business license must be produced at any Traffic Control Point or Security Checkpoint within that jurisdiction or any neighboring jurisdiction within the geographic confines of Beaufort County in which they desire to transit.
Residents and non-resident property owners for Beaufort County may enter under Tier 4 after displaying a current Property Tax Receipt for Beaufort County, or a current South Carolina Driver’s License displaying an address within the confines of Beaufort County.
NOTE: The general public will be allowed in after all the above Tier Re-Entry Passes have been completed.