SC governor gives update on Hurricane Irma preparations

Patients in healthcare facilities in the counties of Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester, Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry were ordered evacuated as of 2 p.m. Thursday, the governor said. Islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties are covered by the order.

Major coastal flooding is possible, threatening to cut off many coastal areas, including routes to and from barrier islands. Hunting Island, Knowls Island, Knowles Island and Tullifini Island.

Some lanes on US 278 and SC 21 may have lane reversals.

The governor did not rule out more evacuations.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has opened a hotline for state residents who have questions about Hurricane Irma.

The islands were chosen for evacuation due to the expected storm surge - up to 6 feet - when Irma passes by Monday, McMaster said, adding experience from previous storms was included in the decision.

Shelters will be open at Bluffton and Battery Creek High Schools starting on Sunday afternoon.

Officials said anywhere from four to six feet of storm surge inundation is expected across the southern SC coast.

Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, has already killed at least 10 people in the Caribbean and could hit South Florida and the southeast coast this weekend with potentially devastating results. He said there are 4-7 inches of rain possible with 10 inches of rain possible across the most southern part of the state.

In its current track, the eye of Irma is set to make landfall over the southern portion of Florida on Sunday night and make its way north, nearing south Georgia by Monday. Georgetown County's official website, www.georgetowncountysc.org, has storm related information. The county's Emergency Operations Center has not yet been fully activated, but officials are ready to do so if the situation calls for it. Updates will be posted to the EOC's Facebook page as well as the county's.

He said while the storm's exact path is still unclear, he is certain the storm will impact the state.

Regardless, McMaster wants residents to get out of harm's way ahead of the killer storm, which is packing winds of 175 mph and sending hurricane-force winds 50 miles from its center.

The governor said he may be closing government offices and schools next Monday and Tuesday.

The Columbia area is unlikely to experience hurricane-force winds but could see tornadoes Monday, forecasters said around midday Saturday.

  • Rogelio Becker