Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public in a press conference from South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) this afternoon, Monday, September 10, 2018.
"There’s no team greater than your South Carolina team, but this is a real hurricane. Our goal is to protect lives and property.” McMaster stated before issuing a mandatory evacuation for 12 p.m. on September 11, 2018 of all people in the evacuation zones in Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton, Georgetown, Horry and Berkley counties. This means residents in these zones should begin evacuating no later than noon on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be inconvenient, but we do not want to risk one South Carolina life.”
Also beginning at noon tomorrow, there will be a full four-lane reversal on I-26 in Charleston at the interchange of I-26 and I-526. The full reversal continues west until the I-26 crossover to I-77 just outside Columbia in Lexington County. Horry County has two four-lane reversals along U.S. 501: S.C. 544 to U.S. 378; and U.S. 501: Between S.C. 22 (Conway Bypass) to S.C. 576 near Marion County. Teams will be ready to reverse lanes on U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 serving the Beaufort and Hilton Head area if necessary.
State government offices and schools will also be closed beginning Tuesday, September 11 in Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Colleton, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lexington, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg counties.
Those who are planning to evacuate to shelters are advised to pack the following essential items in anticipation of a potentially prolonged evacuation period: required medications, adequate clothing, and essential personal items. Residents going to evacuation shelters should bring their own blankets, pillows, cots, and special food items if they are on restricted diets.
Individuals and families should plan to board pets with veterinarians, kennels, or other facilities in non-vulnerable areas. Pets are not allowed inside Red Cross evacuation shelters.
Hurricane Florence has undergone “rapid intensification” and has been upgraded to a Category Four hurricane with wind speeds around 130 miles-per-hour at midday today.
The hurricanes wind field is expected to grow with time as it approaches the coast Carolinas. Although the forecast track has not changed significantly, the hurricane is still expected to be highly dangerous when it makes landfall. The track shows the hurricane hitting North Carolina, South Carolinians are reminded to focus less on the landfall location depicted in the forecast, and instead look at the “cone of uncertainty”.
The hurricane could still make landfall in portions of the South Carolina coast. The cone does not imply where impacts will occur, and impacts will happen far from the center of Hurricane Florence. Tropical storm force winds could extend well over 100 miles from the center of the storm, and hurricane-force winds could extend up to 50 miles from the center of the storm, meaning much of the state, even inland, could be at risk for destructive winds.
The tropical storm force winds will begin before the storm makes landfall sometime Thursday morning. Preparations should be completed before this time.
Life threatening storm surges are likely along the coastline, in association with Hurricane Florence, in addition to high surf and deadly rip current risk, which will continue throughout the week.
Once Florence moves inland, it is expected to weaken and move very slowly, bringing with it a prolonged, heavy rainfall event, along and north of the storm track. This could result in significant river flooding into next week, particularly in the Pee Dee area.
Hurricane Florence is potentially the first Category Four hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina since Hurricane Hugo.
Governor Henry McMaster stated that Team South Carolina is expecting “more wind than [Hurricane] Hugo, and more water than we had with [Hurricane] Matthew.”
South Carolina’s emergency helpline is now active around the clock. Anyone with questions related to Hurricane Florence should call the Public Information Phone System at 1-866-246-0133.
For the latest closings, shelter listings and up-to-date information, visit the SCEMD website. SCETV will be broadcasting all future press conferences related to Hurricane Florence on television, radio, and our website, as well as streaming on YouTube and on social media, and posting any important developments related to the storm and its effects.