McMaster orders evacuation of several barrier islands

BREAKING: Gov Deal expands state of emergency, issues mandatory evacuation order

Those shelters, if needed, will have a capacity of 45,350.

Under the projected track released Friday, the tropical system is expected to sweep into Alabama Monday morning bringing sustained winds of up to 30 miles per hour, with higher gusts in the eastern part of the state.

Along with evacuees from South Carolina, McMaster announced the state is preparing shelters to receive evacuees from Florida and Georgia.

"If you can leave now, go ahead", he said.

Counties on the barrier islands impacted were Colleton, Jasper and Beaufort.

"The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts", said Gov. Henry McMaster.

Officials are still refining plans to use buses to transport as many as 10,000 people away from the coast.

McMaster left the possibility of lane reversals up to law enforcement officials in those three coastal counties. "We want citizens to be prepared". Comfort stations, message boards and motorist assistance vehicles will be available.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has opened a hotline for state residents who have questions about Hurricane Irma. Officials say I-95 and I-26 are moving along with no signifcant congestion. McMaster said traffic volume was up by 40 percent.

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Tanner also said 12 inches of rain is possible.

"The latest projections suggest (Irma) stays south and west of our area, to weaken substantially, and to rain itself out enough to not pose any significant threat", said Dave Nicosia, meteorological warning coordinator for the National Weather Service in Binghamton.

McNoldy says the storm will be "less costly (and) less deadly" on the state's west coast, in comparison to Florida's east coast, where there are more people.

He said it is possible Columbia could face hurricane-strength winds and the Upstate could be buffeted by tropical force winds, something that is unusual for SC.

"There is potential for tree damage, loss of power and water on these islands", Tanner said.

The state's utilities are already preparing to deploy line technicians once the storm moves out of the area and are urging customers to be prepared for the hurricane.

"It's too soon to rule out any possibilities", Stenson said "Hurricane Irma is a risky storm and its projected path could put SC in harm's way".

Ryan Mosier, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said Duke, which also has customers in Florida, is focused on Irma.

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