Emergency officials preparing for Matthew-like flooding on Hilton Head Island

Emergency officials preparing for Matthew-like flooding on Hilton Head Island

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WIS) - People on Hilton Head Island are following Irma closely Monday morning the storm approaches South Carolina.

It was one of the hardest-hit areas during Hurricane Matthew last year and the fear is that much of what was just repaired could be damaged again. It's a flashback to that storm.

High tide is just after noon Monday and emergency officials say it is a dangerous place to be with a 4-6 foot storm surge still expected. Winds over 30 miles per hour have been recorded early Monday.

Hilton Head one of the handful of barrier islands under a mandatory evacuation ordered by Governor McMaster. It's also under curfew.

Firefighters are now staying inside until the worst weather from Tropical Storm Irma passes. Hilton Head Island said on Twitter that it suspended emergency operations at 9 a.m. Monday until the winds and storm surge subside. They say they will only go on calls if a supervisor allows them to because conditions are too dangerous.

The island of 42,000 people is under an evacuation order. Forecasters warn wind gusts around 60 mph (95 kph) and storm surge of up to 6 feet (2 meters) are possible later Monday.

Similar storm surge and winds gusts are possible up to coast to Charleston too.

Deputies with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Department have been monitoring the roads. Several of them are closed including main bridges. The Beaufort County Sheriff said Sunday that many parts are already flooding through tide cycles and it's being compared to what Hurricane Matthew did to this area last October.

"It's in the same direction. It's damaging everything that started to be repaired. It's not as deep as Matthew but again we are not in the worst of it yet," said Lt. Col. Neil Baxley with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Department. "The worst of it is tomorrow. this is been going on now through three type cycles. We are seeing a repeat and the wind gust are already 30 mph for the last three hours."

When asked what they believe is worse, the wind or the storm surge, it's a combination of both that will present dangerous conditions Monday afternoon.

"It's both because the wind is obviously going to bring down trees and power lines," he said. "The ground is already saturated. We have had so much rain so it's not gonna take a lot of wind to bring down trees and that is a concern for houses. But the storm surge is what we are asking everyone to get out of the way up. If you were on one of the islands, you're seeing the inundation already."

It's a dangerous place to be. Areas on the island are flooding already.

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