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Gov. McMaster orders evacuations for all coastal counties, closes offices in 26 counties

Hurricane Florence forecast track, Sept. 10, 11 a.m. (National Hurricane Center)

As Hurricane Florence continues its forecast to make landfall as a major hurricane somewhere in the Carolinas Thursday, S.C. Gov. Henry Mcmaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of eight coastal counties including Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties beginning tomorrow at noon.

At a press conference Monday, McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of the following counties:

  • Jasper
  • Beaufort
  • Colleton
  • Charleston
  • Dorchester
  • Berkeley
  • Georgetown
  • Horry

Lane reversals including I-26 from Charleston to Columbia and Highway 501 from Myrtle Beach will be in effect starting at noon Tuesday.

The governor also ordered for the closing of the following state government offices and schools Tuesday in the following counties:

  • Aiken
  • Allendale
  • Bamberg
  • Beaufort
  • Barnwell
  • Berkeley
  • Calhoun
  • Charleston
  • Colleton
  • Clarendon
  • Darlington
  • Dillon
  • Dorchenster
  • Florence
  • Georgetown
  • Hampton
  • Horry
  • Jasper
  • Lexington
  • Lee
  • Marion
  • Marlboro
  • Orangeburg
  • Richland
  • Sumter
  • Williamsburg

McMaster also ordered all medical evacuations of all hospitals and medical facilities including nursing homes in these 8 areas with mandatory evacuations.

Even with the projected center to pass over southern North Carolina, McMaster said, “This high-velocity hurricane, which will be moving slowly, will be dumping water on us and North Carolina, which will flow through South Carolina. We are liable to have a whole lot of flooding. We are in for a real episode here and we want to emphasize everyone be prepared.”

A member of the National Weather Service spoke at the 2:30 p.m. press conference saying the entire state of South Carolina could feel impacts from the major hurricane.

"Impacts will occur far from the center of Florence; tropical force winds could extend over 100 miles from the center. Hurricane-force winds could extend 50 miles away from the center of the storm, making many parts of the state at risk for destructible winds," said the NWS representative.

Tropical storm winds will arrive in advance of landfall by Thursday morning, according to the NWS.

Lane reversals

Starting at noon Tuesday, the following major interstates will reverse so that four lanes will travel away from the coast to accommodate residents evacuating:

  • I-26 from Charleston to Columbia and I-526 away from Charleston
  • Highway 501 in Myrtle Beach
  • Hwy 278 in Beaufort County
  • Hwy 21 in Beaufort County

The Beaufort roads will be prepared to reverse, with officials making that decision Tuesday.

The closest exit once on I-26 Westbound will be exit I-77 in Ridgeville, according to Captain Travis Manley, with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Other officials said motorists should prepare to not get off the interstate until Columbia.

McMaster said the state expects one million people will be evacuating due to Hurricane Florence.

Watch the full press conference here.

To stay on top of hurricane news, click here.

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