Hurricane Irma evacuations begin in South Carolina on Edisto Beach

Boarded windows on Edisto Beach as an evacuation order for the Colleton County, South Carolina coastal town takes effect Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (WCIV)

EDISTO BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) - The streets of a sleepy coastal community slowly awakened Saturday to headlights and neighborhood chatter. At daybreak, the sun shined a light on Edisto Beach, and a big decision for the people who live here.

"We literally just finished cleaning up last year's stumps and fallen trees because we had quite a few go down," said Penny Martorelli, an Edisto Beach resident.

Martorelli explained how she and her family survived Hurricane Matthew on Edisto. But an evacuation order for the town because of threats from Irma isn't forcing her to leave.


"Our vehicles have plenty of gas should something really massive come. But 80- to 90-mile-an-hour winds, we're staying," she reasoned.

Despite the reluctance of some people to leave, town leaders are hoping others take the evacuation order seriously. That's why local police and state agencies are going door to door making sure everyone understands the dangers of the storm.

Officers walked many of the roads to remind neighbors of wind, rain and flooding possibilities.

"Stay out of the water. We have very dangerous rip currents. And it would be difficult to rescue with angry sea," said Jane Darby, mayor of Edisto Beach.

Darby cautions anyone who wants to ride out the storm, even though she's proud of the town's recovery efforts from last October.

"We're always prepared for the worst. We're pretty hearty people down here. We can take a lot. We hope we do not need to do this again. We just finished re-building," Darby explained.

While a lot of people are following evacuation advice, others like the Adkins family are taking a final stroll of the shore before leaving for higher ground.


"[It] just feels like a storm is coming. There's an energy in the air. But it’s not scary yet. It’s just a lot of wind and the waves are up," said Jessica Adkins, a Summerville resident who’s visiting her mother on Edisto Beach. She and her sister were helping their mother secure her house.

A stronger surf in a small beach town with boarded-up houses. They're early signs of Irma's impact as she threatens South Carolina.

The Edisto Beach Police Department tweeted that a curfew will be in effect at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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