Gov. McMaster lifts mandatory evacuations for 3 SC counties, focus still on 'dangerous, unpredictable' storm

Kevin Arnone's Sept. 11 noon FIRST ALERT weather forecast

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - During a press conference update on the state's ongoing preparations for Hurricane Florence, Governor Henry McMaster says he and state officials continue to make adjustments to their plans.

One such adjustment, the governor announced, was the cancellation of mandatory evacuations for three coastal counties from Monday's executive order. Colleton, Beaufort, and Jasper counties are no longer under the mandatory evacuations. Edisto Beach and all other areas ordered to evacuate are still ordered to do so.

With the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia coasts threatened by Category 4 Hurricane Florence, approximately 1 million residents of those areas are being asked to leave.

The mandatory evacuation executive order remains in effect for all zones in Horry, Georgetown, Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties and for Edisto Beach. Additionally, the governor has ordered that schools and state offices in the following counties will be open beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 12: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper. School districts in these counties have the option to reopen or remain closed, the state department of education said.

Despite the adjustments, the South Carolina Operation Center is working at OPCON 1 - the highest level of state emergency readiness the agency has.

There are currently 28 shelters available that can help 25,000 evacuees - with more expected to be open through the storm.

South Carolina Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies have worked to clear the reversed roadways - Hwy. 501 and I-26 - as lane reversals begin at noon Tuesday.

Price gouging laws in South Carolina are established to stop increased and unfair prices on gas, hotel rooms, and other amenities needed as residents flee the coast.

The state has opened up a public information phone system to be utilized for disaster situations. The number is 1-866-246-0133.

Florence is expected to make landfall west of Wilmington, NC as a Category 4 storm early Friday and is likely to produce large amounts of rain in all three states over the weekend.

As of Tuesday, storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued along the southeast U.S. coast from parts of Florida to Cape Cod, MA.

Check back for more updates.

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