SC Gov. orders evacuations for barrier islands in Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper counties

BREAKING: Gov Deal expands state of emergency, issues mandatory evacuation order

Emergency officials in SC are warning residents to remain alert as Hurricane Irma approaches.

The evacuation begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Governor Henry McMaster and state emergency response officials held a briefing Saturday Afternoon to give an update on how the state is preparing for the impact that Hurricane Irma will bring.

The islands in Beaufort include Dafuskie, Hilton Head, Fripp, Harbor and Hunting.

Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday he plans to make a decision later today about whether to evacuate residents from the coast, after the track for Hurricane Irma shifted west and away from SC.

The executive order enables all state agencies to coordinate resources in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which is now a category five hurricane. The path and strength of the hurricane when and if it hits the Lowcountry is still unknown.

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.

McMaster said the rest of the state can evacuate if they don't feel safe.

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On Friday, the state activated a hurricane hotline that residents can call with questions about the storm.

Residents cleared out store shelves, grabbing the essentials as they prepared for the worst in cities like Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. "It is coming", McMaster said in a news conference broadcast from the state's Emergency Management Division. At one time it's winds reached 185 miles per hour.

The county site notes that Horry County Schools can take in around 13,400 people if shelters are needed.

South Carolina Highway Patrol will be responding to any traffic collision reported in the area.

State emergency officials said they don't want people to panic but want those in hurricane-prone areas to be prepared. Georgetown County's official website, www.georgetowncountysc.org, has storm related information.

On Friday, Duke Energy was continuing steps to prepare for significant rainfall in a short time by moving water out of reservoirs and lowering lake levels in the Catawba River Basin to increase reservoir storage capacity. "The hurricane seems to be going away from us, but that doesn't mean it's going to keep going away, so we have to be vigilant".

Charleston County schools and surrounding systems are cancelling classes from Friday until Tuesday. "The decision on school closings will continue to be made by school districts themselves".

While the league knows they will potentially be impacted by this storm in some capacity, they do not know, according to a press release, the totality of the impact at this time.

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