UPDATE 2: The bridges to Hilton Head Island are no longer blocked, according to traffic cameras. Cars are being let back on the island.
UPDATE 1: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to make an announcement at 10 a.m. Tuesday regarding re-entry. Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner will make an announcement directly after.
Beaufort County public schools are closed through Tuesday and will resume Wednesday.
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Beaufort County’s re-entry hotline is 1-800-963-5023.
Only residents of Hilton Head, Daufuskie Island, Fripp Island, Habor Island and Hunting Island were evacuated.
Residents who evacuated from the Bluffton or Beaufort areas are free to return whenever they’d like.
Although Tropical Storm Irma had mostly moved on as of Monday afternoon, lingering effects of the storm were expected to be felt throughout the evening with a possible residual storm surge of 2 to 3 feet between 10 p.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday.
This means areas that flooded earlier in the day and then receded could become flooded again.
With this in mind, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner have kept the mandatory evacuation in place.
Tanner said Monday evening that Hilton Head Hospital is not yet operational and that the causeways had had an initial inspection but were not cleared to bear the weight of vehicles from re-entry.
“We’re concerned that areas that flooded, which were areas that don’t typically see flooding, would become flooded again overnight,” Tanner said.
In his afternoon news briefing Monday, McMaster announced that he would not be lifting the evacuation order because “there’s still a lot of danger out there.”
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Division sent a release Monday evening thanking evacuees for their patience and reiterating that the evacuation order had not been lifted.
Some social media users posted on Monday afternoon that they were being allowed back on Hilton Head, which created confusion for those who were still evacuated.
Capt. Bob Bromage, spokesman for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday evening that residents were still being turned away.
Stay tuned to www.islandpacket.com and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office alerts.
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