South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Wednesday ahead of possible effects from Hurricane Irma.
The precautionary move allows state agencies to begin coordinating resources ahead of the Category 5 hurricane that could affect South Carolina in the coming days.
No evacuation order was announced for coastal counties; however McMaster said if one does come, it could be as early as Friday.
McMaster said he will be asking President Donald Trump about a presidential disaster declaration today, which will help the state to “receive federal aid and resources, in order to prepare for the landfall (of Irma), if and when it comes.”
As of his 2:15 p.m. briefing, McMaster had not spoken with Trump, but expects to do so soon.
McMaster activated the statewide mass transportation plan to assist individuals in relocating from the six counties that border the Atlantic Ocean. The move involves bussing residents from the vulnerable areas and is a time-sensitive decision that could have a negative impact on evacuation, if delayed.
Details are still forthcoming, but the plan was most recently used prior to Hurricane Matthew to evacuate Charleston residents with limited transportation.
“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts,” McMaster said in a statement. “South Carolina is fortunate to have time to allow us to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall.”
McMaster briefed the media along with Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson and U.S. Army Major General Bob Livingston.
“Hurricane Irma is a dangerous storm and its projected path could put South Carolina in harm’s way,” Stenson said.
The Emergency Management Division has increased operational readiness to Condition 4. OPCON 4 is the next highest response level above normal, day-to-day activities, and emergency managers make initial preparations for the possibility of any hazardous situations.
The S.C. National Guard has not been activated at this time.
Irma continues to strengthen as it moves through the Caribbean slamming the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with winds up to 185 mph—well above the 157 mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in McClellanville on October 8, 2016, as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.