South Carolina orders evacuation for coast ahead of Hurricane Florence

The State (Columbia, S.C.)

PINE RIDGE, S.C. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced a mandatory evacuation of the South Carolina coast on Monday.

Eight counties along the coast would begin evacuating as of noon on Tuesday, McMaster said at a press briefing on Monday.

McMaster said he would reverse lanes on four main roads to facilitate the evacuation. As many as a million people could leave the coast because of the order, the governor said.

"We know the evacuation order I'm issuing will be inconvenient," McMaster said. "But we're not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina."

As of noon Tuesday, lanes will reverse on Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia and Highway 501 from Myrtle Beach.

Highways 278 and 21 in Beaufort County will be ready for reversal as of noon, but officials will wait to make an order at that time.

State offices and schools will also close in 26 counties in the lower part of the state on Tuesday, McMaster said. Some schools will be used as evacuation shelters, which will open as needed, officials said on Monday.

Florence would create more wind than Hugo and more water than Matthew, McMaster warned.

Projections on Monday show the storm making landfall in the area of Wilmington, N.C., early Friday morning, but with much of South Carolina still under threat of seeing a significant impact.



State lawmakers were saying the governor would order an evacuation beginning Tuesday. State offices and schools would also be closed in the affected counties, lawmakers said.

State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, tweeted Monday afternoon that McMaster had announced to members of the Geveral Assembly he will order evacuations for the coast beginning at noon on Tuesday. S.C. Rep. Tim McGinnis posted to his Facebook page that lanes on major state roads would be reversed to facilitate the evacuations.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

On Saturday, McMaster formally declared a state of emergency, allowing officials to put hurricane preparations into effect and begin coordinating resources. The South Carolina National Guard can also be deployed during an emergency as necessary.

The state has submitted a request to President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration, clearing the way for federal funds and assistance for any damage from the storm.



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