Editor’s note: In a press conference Tuesday morning, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties. To read more, click here.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered an evacuation of the state’s entire coast starting at noon Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Florence, leaving residents of Beaufort County wondering if they will be able to return to their homes if they choose to stay this week.
During his press conference Monday, McMaster appeared open to the possibility of modifying his evacuation plan. He said U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 would be “ready for reversal” at noon Tuesday, but a final decision on whether to reverse flow on the two highways would come later from local authorities.
“If the hurricane miraculously, overnight, decides to go somewhere else, we can take corrective action,” he said, saying it was easier to “stand down” state resources than have them “stand up” at a moment’s notice.
As of Monday afternoon, however, no roadblocks or lane reversals have been scheduled for Tuesday in Beaufort County, including the Hilton Head Island bridges, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
“(R)esidents and guests of Beaufort County will be allowed to travel within county borders, until there is a need for lane reversals on U.S. 278 and U.S. 21,” a Monday evening message from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said, urging residents to leave by Tuesday.
“We are not going to restrict people’s movements within the county until lane reversals are necessary, if they become necessary,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Bob Bromage on Monday evening.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 storm just after 12 p.m. Monday, as the rapidly strengthening storm moved westward through the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference at noon Tuesday.
The Cross Island Parkway on Hilton Head has been identified as an evacuation route, and the toll will be waived as of Tuesday at noon. Until then, drivers will have to pay the toll that is $1.25 per two-axle car each way.
For the most recent information on evacuations, call Beaufort County’s hurricane hotline at 1-800-963-5023.