NEWS:  Governor may issue evacuation order Saturday morning

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Staff reports (originally posted 3:50 p.m., 9/7/17)  |  Gov. Henry McMaster today said he may issue an evacuation order Saturday for coastal areas to steer people away from Hurricane Irma, which may bring destructive winds and storm surges Monday that cause major damage to the Palmetto State.

“If you can leave now, go ahead,” the governor said during a news conference televised on SCETV.

Officials said residents should start feeling the hurricane’s wrath on Sunday night.  If it moves into the state on Monday, the Midlands may get hurricane-force wind gusts and the Upstate may experience tropical storm-force wind gusts.

The state is as “prepared as we can be but we want the people to get prepared,” McMaster said Thursday afternoon.  “Be prepared and start now.  Just imagine the hurricane will be here in the morning and do what you need to do now. … It is coming.”

McMaster said he issued executive orders today to require owners of more than 2,300 private dams to lower water levels in case of heavy rains and to evacuate residents of coastal hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care facilities.

He said he may issue an executive order at 10 a.m. Saturday for a mandatory evacuation of coastal areas as well as an order authorizing reversal of Interstate 26 and some roads in Beaufort and Horry counties.

If there is an evacuation order, he encouraged people to stay on authorized evacuation routes, which would be staffed with emergency personnel to direct traffic and provide assistance.

  • Click here to find your S.C. hurricane evacuation routes.

The governor said more than 2,300 state and local law enforcement officers would be on duty during an evacuation, as well as up to 5,000 National Guard troops and 1,200 state Department of Transportation personnel.   There will be 200 American Red Cross shelters, if needed, and more than 2,000 state and Red Cross workers staffing them.

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