State of Emergency declared for South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Irma

As of noon Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster issued a state of emergency for South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Irma, according to a news release. (MGN)

As of noon Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster issued a state of emergency for South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Irma, according to a news release.

McMaster urges South Carolinians to prepare for the possibility of the storm impacting the state.

The governor, the SCEMD Director and US Army Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston discussed the State of Emergency and the state's plans at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. You can watch it in the player below.

*NOTE: There are sound issues for some of the news conference.

The executive order enables all state agencies to coordinate resources in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which is currently a category five hurricane. Forecasters believe Irma could affect the east coast of the United States in the coming days.

The First Warning Weather HURRICANE CENTER

“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts,” said Gov. McMaster. “South Carolina is fortunate to have time to allow us to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall, and it is important that families and individuals in vulnerable areas use that time to review safety plans in case they are needed.”

People in potentially vulnerable areas should review personal safety plans, become familiar with local evacuation zones in coastal counties and locate the nearest hurricane evacuation routes.

Related - Know Your Zone: Evacuation Zones

Members of the state’s Emergency Response Team will begin reviewing plans and notifying response staff should they be needed, according to the news release.

SCEMD Director Kim Stenson continues conference calls with county emergency managers, SERT agencies and local National Weather Service offices. The agencies on these coordination calls share information and discuss emergency plans in advance of any response to the storm.

“It’s too soon to rule out any possibilities,” Stenson said “Hurricane Irma is a dangerous storm and its projected path could put South Carolina in harm’s way. Fortunately, people in South Carolina have time. While we hope we never see a hurricane head our way, we all need prepare for the possible effects.”

The Emergency Management Division has increased operational readiness to Condition 4.

OPCON 4 is the next highest response level above normal, day-to-day activities, and emergency managers make initial preparations for the possibility of any hazardous situations. Select personnel from SCEMD’s Operations and Preparedness sections continue to monitor Hurricane Irma from the State Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia.

Horry and Georgetown counties also increased their readiness to OPCON 4 at noon Wednesday.

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