COLUMBIA, SC – About 360,00 evacuees have left the coastal areas of South Carolina as of 8 a.m., according to the governor’s office.
Of those evacuees, 46 percent were from the Charleston area, about 34 percent from the Myrtle Beach area and about 23 percent from the Beaufort area. About 10 to 15 percent of those evacuees were tourists.
Gov. Henry McMaster and his staff provided emergency updates on preparations Wednesday afternoon as the coastal areas prepare for hurricane-force winds.
McMaster repeated three times, people living in the evacuation zones still have time to get out “but you need to get out.” The governor had said on Tuesday people should have evacuated by Wednesday morning.
“Once the wind speeds reach up to 40 mph, we can no longer come in to get you,” the governor said. If someone does end up staying, they should be prepared for short-term isolation.
Surges have the potential to reach four to eight feet above normally dry land, the governor said. The surges will be most significant around the high tide starting Thursday afternoon and staying into Friday morning.
“The fact the center of the hurricane is not inland doesn’t mean much because hurricane winds still will affect the coast,” McMaster said. Hurricane Dorian is expected to hit the Beaufort and Hilton Head area around 6 to 8 a.m. Thursday morning and work it’s way up the coast.
The governor reported Charleston already is experiencing flooding brought on my king tide. “It is the water that kills people. It is the water that is the real danger. And it is clear we’re going to have a lot of water.”
“Hurricane Dorian will be pushing the water inland and the rain is calculated to be 10 to 15 inches, so we’re going to have a collision of water along the coast.”
If you chose not to leave, the McMaster said, we do not know what the water is going to be like but do take these precautions:
- Tell your loved ones or next of kin where you plan to be.
- Get up as high as you can in whatever structure you’re in.
- Protect your pets.
- Stay indoors.
- Stay away from windows and glass doors.
- Take refuge in a small interior room.
- Brace external doors, close blinds and drapes.
- Be sure you have all your important papers in water safe containers with you.
- No generators inside.
- Plan to be stuck there for a while.
Major General McCarty with the National Guard said about 1,600 guardsmen are on duty to support transportation and public safety. The Guard has moved 90 high-water vehicles into the area to spread across the coastline. Thirteen helicopters also have been moved in to be partnered with state fire marshals.
Leroy Smith with the Department of Public Safety said I-26 lanes are being returned to normal and it will take three to four hours on Wednesday afternoon to finish. He urged drivers not to drive through standing water, “Turnaround, don’t drown.”