WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster has ordered an evacuation of the entire South Carolina coast and has announced interstate reversals in preparation of the powerful Category 4 Hurricane Florence.
Florence could be the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the Carolinas since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. SCEMD has also put their preparedness level at OPCON 2, the second-highest level for the state of emergencies in South Carolina.
These evacuations, a part of Executive Order 2018-29, are mandatory and include Beaufort and Dorchester counties beginning at noon Tuesday, Sept. 11. Florence's track continues to show it will impact the southeastern U.S. coast, impacting the Carolinas and Virginia.
S.C. Department of Public Safety and S.C. Department of Transportation along with supporting agencies will at noon Tuesday, Sept. 11 to reverse the direction of traffic along certain evacuation routes to ease the flow of traffic away from the coast:
- Charleston to Columbia: A full four-lane reversal on I-26 in Charleston will begin at the interchange of I-26 and I-526. The full reversal continues west until the I-26 crossover to I-77 just outside Columbia in Lexington County.
- Horry County: Horry County has two four-lane reversals along US 501: SC 544 to US 378; and US 501: Between SC 22 (Conway Bypass) to SC 576 near Marion County.
- For the Beaufort and Hilton Head area, we will poise and be ready to reverse US 278 and US 21 if traffic conditions warrant.
The governor also issued Executive Order 2018-30, which orders school closures and closures of all state government offices for all non-essential personnel in the following counties, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 11: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Colleton, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lexington, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg.
People who live in the following coastal areas must evacuate beginning noon Tuesday. Residents who do not know their zones can visit SCEMD's "Know Your Zone" website where they can enter their address and be given their precise zones and view detailed maps of the zones.
- Northern South Carolina Coast (All Zones)
- Horry County Evacuation Zones A, B, C
- Georgetown County Evacuation Zones A, B, C
- Central South Carolina Coast (All Zones)
- Charleston County Evacuation Zones A, B, C
- Dorchester County Evacuation Zones D, E, F
- Berkeley County Evacuation Zones B, G, H, I
- Southern Coast (All Zones)
- Colleton County Evacuation Zones A, B
- Beaufort County Evacuation Zone A
- Jasper County Evacuation Zones A, B
Evacuation shelter locations will be available on scemd.org and in the SC Emergency Manager mobile app as soon as they are opened. Evacuees should pack the following essential items in anticipation of a potentially prolonged evacuation period: required medications, adequate clothing, and essential personal items. Residents going to evacuation shelters should bring their own blankets, pillows, cots, and special food items if they are on restricted diets.
Individuals and families should plan to board pets with veterinarians, kennels, or other facilities in non-vulnerable areas. Pets are not allowed inside Red Cross evacuation shelters.
In advance of increased traffic on South Carolina highways, the Department of Transportation will go into 24-hour operations of state rest areas. Tolls in Hilton Head will also be suspended.
Virginia and North Carolina have also issued states of emergencies and portions of North Carolina are now under evacuation orders.
Check back for more updates.