McMaster orders evacuation of several barrier islands

People evacuating barrier islands in South Carolina ahead of impact from Hurricane Irma

Residents in other portions of the state are advised to seek appropriate shelter as the impact of the storm reaches SC early next week.

McMaster urged drivers to follow evacuation signs posted along the highways, "no matter what they say on Google maps".

Nevertheless, the State Emergency Operations Center moved to OPCON 1 on Saturday morning, fully activating the emergency team at the highest level in preparation for expected storm surges on the Lowcountry coast.

S.C. leaders appeared to breathe a collective sigh of relief Saturday, as Hurricane Irma's projected track shifted even farther west toward western Georgia.

Higher than normal tides are expected to worsen flooding conditions. Shelters scheduled to be operating beginning tomorrow include the Colleton Middle School in Colleton County, Ridgeland High Junior and Elementary School in Jasper County. As of Saturday afternoon, there are fewer than 50 people in shelters. Bluffton High School and Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County.

"In a situation like this, it's always best to be cautious because the weather can change", he said.

McMaster did not give a clear timeframe for when evacuation orders might be lifted, and pledged thorough inspections of state infrastructure following Irma to ensure the safety of citizens. And brand-name gas stations have a steady supply of fuel, McMaster said.




"If you can leave now, go ahead", he said.

McMaster said there are plenty of vacant hotels in the state and he told evacuees to use hotel search sites to find available rooms.

According to a poll taken in the aftermath of McMaster's announcement, 78 percent of our readers said they believed the governor was "playing politics" on the abortion issue compared to just 17 percent who said he was genuinely "standing for the unborn".

Thursday's projections had Irma making a possible landfall from the Atlantic south of Charleston, with the eye then moving toward Greenville. The hurricane is expected to pummel Florida in the coming days.

The governor asked South Carolinians to avoid using the interstates if possible to help cut down on traffic.

More than 3,400 law enforcement agents and guardsmen are on duty as Irma approaches, McMaster said.

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