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Irma Weakens as S.C. Lifts Evacuation Orders: Governor's Update 09/12/17 10 a.m.
Governor Henry McMaster addressed the public from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), just after 10 a.m. today, Sept. 12, 2017.
As of 9:15 a.m., Governor McMaster lifted the evacuation order from the barrier islands of Hilton Head, Daufuskie, Tulfinny and Knowles Islands, and are available for reentry. There is restricted access to Harbor, Hunting, and Fripp Islands and Edisto Beach. Restricted access means local law enforcement will be able to enter as they are able. Local law enforcement will likely be holding press conferences and making statements regarding restrictions and reentry in those areas.
Governor McMaster requested patience and urged for compliance with restrictions and safety precautions, such as roadblocks and detours, as citizens return home. There will be movement of emergency crews on roadways as well. National Guard troops and other law enforcement and emergency response vehicles will be assisting in South Carolina and Flordia, and some will be demobilizing as the week continues. General Livingston of the National Guard requested courtesy for these crews on the road. Citizens are again reminded not to drive around barricades under any circumstances.
"We want everyone to be safe," Governor McMaster said.
Irma is now a post-tropical cyclone that will continue to weaken as it approaches the Tenneessee Valley. The only remaining concern in South Carolina is for minor coastal flooding along the southern and central coast around the time of hightide on Tuesday afternoon in the Charleston and Hilton Head areas.
Some rivers have responded to the rainfall seen yesterday. There are river flood warnings for the Santee River near Jamestown, the Waccamaw River near Conway and the Black Creek near Quinby. These will be monitored, as flooding could occur through Friday into the weekend. There were as much as 6 to 8 inches of rain in some areas, and potentially even more rainfall than that in some areas.
The highest wind gusts reported were as follows: 76 miles per hour (mph), Parris Island; 72 mph, Folly Beach Pier; 68 mph, Sullivan's Island; 66 mph, Beaufort; 58 mph, Oconnee county, 52 mph, Anderson county; 55 mph, Lancaster Airport; 54 mph, Orangeburg; and 51 mph, Columbia Airport. Fifty to 60 mph was fairly common across the state.
South Carolina's EMD has shifted its attention to reentry and continuing shelter operations and support, as well as damage reporting and assessment in the coming days. Initital reports have concluded that there is no widespread damage in affected areas at this time. Shelters will remain open across the state for South Carolina evacuees and evacuees from neighboring states.
For damage assistance, debris management and concerns call the Public Information Phone System (PIPS) Statewide Hotline: 1-866-246-0133
Secretary Hall of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), said the department has completed damage assessment of state roads and bridge at this time, and said they were pleased to report very little damage tp infrastructure across the state. The only known reportable damage is as US-21 bridge at Harbor River, where repairs are currently being made, and a small section of Insterstate-95 (I-95) North near Dillon County, where a detour is in place.
Traffic is higher than normal across the state, with some pockets of congestion, with most of the congestion occuring on I-26 AND I-95 South. Secretary Hall expressed her gratitude to the power companies and emergency responders who have been vigilantly working to remove downed power lines and trees so that roads could be reopened. There are still a few intermittent roads that remain closed. The main focus for crews currently is debris removal.
To check road closures and for other storm resrouces, visit:
There are two known storm-related fatalities at this time. Charles Saxon, 57, of Calhoun Falls in Abbeville county, was unfortunately struck by a falling limb. The other was a traffic collision on Interstate-77 (I-77) involving two vehicles. Zhen Tain, 21, of Florida sustained fatal injuries. The governor extended his thoughts and prayers to the families of these two men.
South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources has been working with S.L.E.D. to check on residents on barrier islands, and are now performing river sweeps to idenitfy dangerous debris. Boaters are still cautioned to avoid waterways until these sweeps can be completed.
Governor McMaster thanked Team South Carolina for their cooperative planning and coordination, and getting vital information to citizens in a timely manner. Governor McMaster hoped South Carolinians would return to safety and normalcy in their homes and businesses as soon as possible.
Governor McMaster and Team South Carolina are monitoring Hurricane Jose, but did not have anything to report at this time.