About 44457 South Carolina residents impacted by evacuations in response to Hurricane Irma – Charleston Post Courier
COLUMBIA – The hurricane forecastâs westward shift has “relieved some of the tension” in South Carolina, said Gov. Henry McMaster at a Saturday briefing from the stateâs Emergency Management Division.
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.
Approximately 44,457 South Carolina residents are affected by the evacuations that went into effect Saturday morning on barrier islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties, with the vast majority on Hilton Head Island.
- 532 in Edisto Beach
- 468 on Dafuskie Island
- 743 on Fripp Island
- 105 on Harbor Island
- 168 on Hunting Island
- 42,000 on Hilton Head Island
- 409 on Knowles Island
- 32 on Tullifiny Island
The state does not have a current count of how many people remain on the islands, but McMaster said, “compliance, as far as we can tell, has been good.”
He continued to urge remaining stragglers to get out while they still can. Sheriffs will be out on the islands around 5 p.m. to conduct sweeps and offer help to those who need it.
“The storm surge is something thatâs not to be taken lightly,” McMaster said.
For Lowcountry residents leaving their cars parked, officials are urging them to park them up high, either on hills or in garages, to avoid getting caught in floods.
Three shelters have opened: Colleton Middle School in Colleton County, Ridgeland High School in Jasper County, and Dent Middle School in Richland County. Fewer than 50 people are currently in those shelters, said Kim Stenson, the director of the Emergency Management Division.
Bulletin High School and Battery Creak High School in Beaufort County will open as shelters at 9 a.m. Sunday. Twelve other shelters around the state remain on standby in case they become necessary.
“Right now weâre hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” McMaster said. “The hurricane seems to be going away from us, but that doesnât mean itâs going to keep going away, so we have to be vigilant.”
Plenty of hotel rooms in South Carolina are available, McMaster noted, particularly in the Myrtle Beach area and the Upstate. But evacuees from Florida and Georgia will also be able to stay at shelters in South Carolina if needed.
Branded gas stations are not experiencing shortages, and McMaster said drivers should not feel the need to repeatedly top up their tanks or take additional reserves.
The governor signed a memorandum of understanding Saturday with Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to provide assistance from South Carolinaâs first responders, law enforcement, national guard and state fire rescue teams as needed. The hurricane is expected to pummel Florida in the coming days.
Due to evacuations in Florida and Georgia, 124,000 additional cars have been on South Carolina roadways, said state Transportation Secretary Christy Hall. But congestion has cleared up and traffic is now flowing well, she added.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, dressed in his military fatigues as a member of the state national guard, reminded residents that the stateâs price-gouging laws are in full effect, prohibiting anyone from selling goods or lodging at an âunconscionable priceâ during the emergency situation.
Wilson’s office has received around 210 price-gouging complaints, he said, 85 percent of which were about the sale of fuel, 10 percent for water and the remainder for lodging.
Wilson reminded residents that there will be some natural fluctuation in prices as evacuees come into the state that does not necessarily reach the level of price-gouging. But if people do see examples of what they believe to be price-gouging, they can report them through a form at scag.gov, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (803) 737-3953.
About 34 members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are also now in South Carolina to assist with state efforts.