Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public in a press conference from South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
Governor McMaster expressed his pride in the way that Team South Carolina had worked diligently to devise a “grand plan” to ensure the safety of South Carolinians in preparation for Hurricane Irma.
“You plan your work, and you work your plan.” the Governor said.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for from the South Santee River to north of Edisto Beach. A hurricane watch is in effect from Edisto Beach to further south.
Irma remains a Category Three hurricane with winds of 125 mph. It is currently located 145 miles southeast of Key West, Fl. It is expected that Irma will make landfall in Florida early Monday. The forecast currently shows the storm moving northwest across Georgia while weakening on Monday and Tuesday.
If the storm continues in this pattern, South Carolina will still experience some impacts. The wind field will be expanding as Irma passes to the west. The greatest potential threat lies in storm surge inundation of low-lying coastal areas across the southern and central parts of the coast. Coastal flooding at high tide is likely today and Sunday, with the most significant inundation expected with high tide around mid-day on Monday. Four to six feet of inundation on normally dry ground is anticipated, again, particularly on Monday. This could damage low-lying areas along the coast, including damage to docks and piers, beach erosion, and flooding in barrier islands and low-lying coastal roadways.
Tropical storm level wind gusts are predicted on Sunday night, persisting until Monday night, with the strongest winds south and west of Interstate-26 and near the coast, and potentially hurricane force winds gusts along the southern coast of South Carolina. These gusts can cause scattered damage to trees, minor structural damage and some power outages.
Rainfall remains a concern, with an anticipated 4-7 inches across the state and ten inches possible across the southern part of the state. This could cause some flash flooding, particularly in the mountainous terrain of the upstate of South Carolina. Some rivers could potentially flood in the middle to latter part of next week.
There is a still a potential threat for tornadoes, with the greatest risk to the south and west of I-26 on Monday and Monday evening.
As of this conference, 1,349 National Guardsmen are on duty, 1,696 troopers and local law enforcement are on duty, 107 state guardsmen on duty, and 264 S.L.E.D. agents, parole and probation officers, and Department of Natural Resources agents on duty.
Governor McMaster signed a memorandum of understanding today with Governor Rick Scott of Florida to provide assistance from South Carolina’s National Guard as needed in Florida. South Carolina will be sending MPs (Military Police) to Florida. South Carolina will also be providing first responders as needed.
Traffic along I-95 and I-26 is moving without significant problems.
Gas is continuing to be delivered in terminals, and it is not expected that a gas shortage will arise among branded or independent stations. McMaster reminded citizens that unless a fill-up is necessary to be conservative when purchasing gas.
In consideration of evacuees, shelters are being prepared to accept South Carolinians and those evacuating from Florida and Georgia. Hotel rooms are still available in South Carolina, particularly on the northern coast in the Myrtle Beach area.
Shelters open currently:
Colleton County Middle School
1379 Tuskegee Airmen Dr.
Ridgeland High Junior-Elementary Complex
250 Jaguar Trail
Dent Middle School
2721 Decker Blvd.
Opening at 9 a.m. tomorrow and on standby:
Bluffton High School
Battery Creek High School
N. Charleston High School
Stall High School
Oakbrook Middle School
Ft. Dorchester High School
DuBose Middle School
Estil High School
Bethune-Bowman Middle High School
Orangeburg-Wilkinson Senior High School
Kingstree Senior High School
South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Resources (DHEC) has examined 51 dams in the state, and has identified 8 that they will follow-up on when rain begins.
Ken Stinson of SCEMD let citizens know that the State of Operations Center is fully active and ready to support local authorities. They are actively filling emergency requests.
Should you have an emergency request, call: 1-866-246-0133
General Livingston of the South Carolina National Guard felt assured that the National Guard was fully prepared to act as need. There are currently 6,000 not activated troops that are well positioned to engage as necessary. General Livingston also wanted to welcome back SC National Guardsmen: an MP company from Beaufort, an aviation battalion from Ft. Hood, and guardsmen and families returning from the Middle East.
Secretary Christy Hall of South Carolina Dept. of Transportation stated that 124,000 additional vehicles were on S.C. roadways as a result of evacuations. At one point traffic was double typical volume, but in now at 15% normal volume on I-95, and about the same on I-26, with a few pockets of congestion. All other interstates are flowing regularly.
Chief Jones, State Fire Marshall, said that state firefighters stand ready for local and regional needs, as well as any sister state needs. These groups are trained and equipped in structural collapse and water search and rescue. Some teams have just returned from Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is in the process of river sweeps, particularly on the Intracoastal Way. This will continue over the next few days.
Dock owners and landowners on the coast are reminded to remove boats now.
If boats and docks are damaged, this adds dangerous structures in the waterways.
Attorney General Alan Wilson noted that as the Declaration of Emergency was in effect, South Carolina’s price gouging laws are in effect. So far there have been 210 complaints, mainly regarding gas, with some complaints regarding water and lodging. A.G. Wilson reminded citizens that as more evacuees enter the state, depleting resources can cause price changes, and price gouging is not always occurring. Should you wish to report potential price gouging, you may visit:
Or call: 803-737-3953
There is no need for a lane reversal at this time, though necessary groups are on standby.
Governor McMaster reminded South Carolinians to stay safe and vigilant, particularly regarding high-level winds.
“We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” the Governor said.