SC governor lifts evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper counties before Hurricane Florence

Less than 24 hours after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for the state’s 187-mile coastline ahead of Hurricane Florence, he rescinded the order Tuesday for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties.

“They’re a little different, those counties, being south of the other counties,” McMaster said in a morning press conference. “We have now implemented and further refined that (evacuation) plan.”

Schools within the Beaufort County School District will remain closed for the remainder of the week.

Lane reversals on U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 will no longer take place.

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On Monday afternoon, McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning at noon Tuesday for counties along the state’s coastline.

After Tuesday’s press conference, the evacuation continues to include Charleston, Berkeley, Horry, Georgetown and Dorchester counties.

The evacuation order was announced just two days after the governor declared a state of emergency ahead of Florence when it was still a tropical storm.

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As of Tuesday morning, Beaufort County was not in the path of the Category 4 storm and not included in any storm surge watch or hurricane watch issued by the National Hurricane Center. However, the county could see effects of the storm on Sunday, according to the 11 a.m. projection from the National Hurricane Center.

When McMaster announced the evacuation order Monday, he appeared to leave open the door to modify his plan.

“If the hurricane miraculously, overnight, decides to go somewhere else, we can take corrective action,” he said Monday, saying it was easier to “stand down” state resources than have them “stand up” at a moment’s notice.

When asked Tuesday if an evacuation order for Beaufort County had ever been rescinded, Baxley said he had never seen it happen.

“It illustrates the flexibility that we have through lessons learned,” Baxley said. “We’ve done this now three times in three years, so we’ve gotten really flexible.”

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