West Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged any remaining residents in the state's low-lying evacuation zones to leave, noting that strong winds and rain would still lash state.
The projected path for Hurricane Irma has continued to track away from South Carolina but the storm is still expected to have a significant impact on the state.
"It's not too late to, and it's time," he said, of lingering coastal residents in evacuation zones. Law enforcement officers are patrolling the zones to prevent any possible looting, the governor said.
The governor noted that current projections call for 4 to 6 feet of storm surge on the lower coastal area, with winds as high as 65 miles per hour in southern regions of the state.
The brunt of the storm is expected starting around 10am Monday and continuing into the evening, forecasters said.
"This is a serious storm. It could still hit us hard," McMaster said Sunday during a briefing at the state's emergency operations center.
McMaster said President Donald Trump called him this morning and reiterated the federal government's willingness to provide disaster assistance.
A total of 11 open shelters are housing 264 evacuees, with a capacity of more than 7,000, and officials said that state shelter capacity would grow to more than 13,000 if there is an influx of evacuees from Florida and Georgia in the hours and days ahead.
McMaster said that 650 National Guardsmen are headed to Florida to assist in disaster relief efforts there, while a similar number remain on duty in South Carolina.
A growing number of area school districts and county governments have already announced closings for Monday.
The storm continues to bring some traffic surges to the state with Interstate 20 seeing some more vehicles, but overall, traffic is flowing smoothly. State transportation officials said they would possibly be closing some coastal bridges as winds increase.
Governor McMaster says over 54,000 sand bags have been filled, and thousands are left for anyone in need.
DHEC says regulated dam owners have been notified to lower water levels and that they've inspected over 90 dams across the state.
Governor McMaster says nothing has changed regarding the evacuations on Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper Counties. McMaster says there will be national guard and law enforcement patrolling the barrier islands, not leaving it open to thieves. He went on to say mischief makers or anyone who tries to take advantage of this storm will not be tolerated, will be arrested on sight and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Governor McMaster says there is no predication on when evacuated areas will reopen, and he will do so when it's determined safe to do so.
Governor McMaster says there are 579 national guard on duty, 100 troopers assisting law enforcement, and 89 state guardsmen on duty.
There will be a total of 23 shelters open around the state by the end of Sunday, with a total capacity of 13,000.
SCE&G says they are prepared to fix power issues as they come. Asks people to immediately report a downed line. Says lines are hard to distinguish between telephone and power, and that you should not go near it.
Governor McMaster says lane reversals are possible in Beaufort County, but are not likely to happen.
We do have shortages and outages, but we are not facing a statewide outage. Bigger name stations generally aren’t effected. If you do not find gas at one location, you are likely to find some at another.
Attorney General says there have been 250 complaints of price gouging, mainly gas, water, etc. Says this is less than previous natural disasters, and that complaints will be looked into after the event is over.
Aid to Other States
General Livingston says we may see military movement and helicopters flying in South Carolina. They are on their way to help partners in Florida and Georgia. Six hundred and fifty troopers will go to help Florida.
Governor McMaster says the Midlands should prepare themselves for a lot of wind and rain. The statewide hotline for Hurricane Irma Information is 1-866-246-0133.
WLTX reporter Lana Harris contributed to this report.