South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster warned for the Lowcountry to expect dangerous conditions including storm surge, flooding, and high wind speeds as Hurricane Irma approaches.
“It’s not going to hit us directly, but it’s going to hit us,” McMaster said in a 2 p.m. press conference. “You don’t get a second chance with these storms and it’s time use common sense and be safe. It’s not too late to leave now.”
High wind speeds could reach up to 65 mph starting Sunday evening, the National Weather Service warned. Tropical storm and hurricane level winds extend up to 270 miles away from the storm.
The worst of the storm is expected in the Lowcountry between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, where the weather service anticipates to see 4 to 6 feet of storm surge on the barrier islands including Hilton Head, Daufuskie, Hunting, Fripp and Harbor islands.
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Flooding and wind, fortunately, it’s not hitting us like we thought it might from this storm, but it is still a dangerous storm and the track could always change,” McMaster warned.
For evacuees looking at options for shelter, Bluffton High School and Battery Creek High School opened Sunday in Beaufort County. Ridgeland-Hardeeville is open also as a shelter in Jasper County.
SCDOT announced that traffic is flowing normally throughout the state, except for the Augusta area where it’s slightly congesting. They are expecting to close moving bridges later today along barrier islands as wind speeds increase. McMaster said the state is not worried about a gas shortage at this time, and gas should be available in all areas around the state.
McMaster said that the National Guard is patrolling the barrier islands that evacuated to protect homes from looters and thieves.
“There will be no tolerance for looters, thieves, and any one causing mischief of any kind,” McMaster said. “They will be arrested and charged.”
McMaster also said that he spoke with President Donald Trump this morning, who approved request for federal disaster assistance.
McMaster said they aren’t sure about how many people remain on the evacuated islands.
“We’re concerned about the people not taking our recommendation to leave,” he said.
McMaster ordered a continuing evacuation of Hilton Head, Fripp and other barrier islands, which was effective Saturday morning.
In addition, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.