At a 2:30 p.m. press conference Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster reiterated that Beaufort County is still not under an evacuation order. To read that story, click here.
After widespread speculation in the community that a mandatory evacuation for Beaufort County would be reinstated for Hurricane Florence, Sheriff P.J. Tanner announced Wednesday morning that the county is “still in a standby mode.”
“If we need to re-examine the evacuation, that will be something that we will be looking at between now and tomorrow morning,” he said at an 11 a.m. press conference.
“It could happen.”
Crews from the S.C. Department of Transportation were stationed along U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 Wednesday morning, but only as a precaution in case an order is reinstated, Tanner said Wednesday.
“We have not looked at any road reversals, but in case we need to do that at some point the resources are there,” he said.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for the state’s entire coast Monday afternoon, but then lifted the order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties late Tuesday morning.
When McMaster lifted the order Tuesday, Beaufort County was not in the path of the Category 4 storm and not included in any storm surge watch or hurricane watch issued by the National Hurricane Center.
However, Wednesday morning the storm’s path shifted south and west, with projections engulfing more of South Carolina, including Beaufort, Bluffton, and Hilton Head Island, and western North Carolina.
Lower-end tropical storm force winds — about 30-35 mph — could come to the county as early as Thursday, Mike Emlaw of the National Weather Service in Charleston said Wednesday morning.
“We’ve had some changes in the storm’s direction — some that are concerning us,” Tanner said Wednesday. “... As we progress through the day and into the evening, we’re going to keep a close watch on the storm’s movement.”
Tanner urged Beaufort County residents to keep a close eye on the massive storm as it moves closer in the next few days.
“Everyone needs to be very attentive and prepared to move inward,” he said.
The sheriff’s office is asking residents to consider where they live and what happened to their property during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Tropical Storm Irma in 2017.
“If you’re not comfortable being there in those scenarios, then we strongly encourage you to take off and go somewhere safe now,” Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, commander of the Sheriff’s Office’s Emergency Management Division, said Wednesday.
Baxley also stated that residents planning to evacuate should head toward Georgia and Florida, not further into South Carolina, where the storm is also expected to pose danger.
The governor is the only person who has the authority to issue a mandatory evacuation through an executive order.
He is expected to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon regarding hurricane updates.
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