Gov. McMaster: 'We are in deadly, important game of chess with Hurricane Florence'

    WPDE file

    At a news conference Tuesday morning, Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the evacuation order in Jasper, Beaufort and Colleton counties.

    The evacuation order for all other counties, including Horry and Georgetown, will still go into effect at noon Tuesday.

    Gov. McMaster said emergency managers are concerned that people will see the shifting storm track and think that South Carolina will be in the clear, but he said this not the case.

    Residents in all evacuation zones in Horry and Georgetown Counties should be evacuating as of noon Tuesday.

    "This is still a very dangerous storm, and you must take it seriously,” Governor McMaster said. “We are in a very deadly and important game of chess with Hurricane Florence.”

    Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said lane will go into effect on U.S. Highway 501 at noon and will remain that way until further notice. There are two four-lane reversals along US 501: SC 544 to US 378; and US 501: Between SC 22 (Conway Bypass) to SC 576 near Marion County.

    Drivers will still be able to get between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Lane reversals on Interstate 26 in Charleston County went into effect at 11 a.m. Tuesday, an hour ahead of schedule.

    Officers and equipment will be removed from the evacuation routes six hours before the onset of tropical storm force winds, according to Smith.

    SCDOT Director Christy Hall says they’re already seeing significant traffic increases out of Myrtle Beach on Highways 9, 501, 378, and Conway Bypass.

    Gen. Robert Livingston, Adjutant General for South Carolina, says Team South Carolina continues to move resources into place. He said 1,800 National Guardsmen are on duty-- and that will increase as the storm gets closer. When questioned about the timing of the governor’s evacuation order, Livingston said it takes 36 to 48 hours to get people safely away from the coast, so they make decisions based on the safety of the residents.

    "A storm can make a change in two to three hours... We have to err on the side of caution," Gen. Livingston said.

    State Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson says they will continue to update shelter information on the state’s website. WPDE is also updating that information here

    You are reminded to bring comfort items such as pillows and blankets, medications, and food for those on special diets. Further evacuees are urged to make other arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters; however, service animals are welcome. More than two dozen shelters are open across the state, with a capacity of 25,000 collectively. The State can open more shelters in coming days if necessary.

    Any resident needing information about Hurricane Florence can call 1-866-246-0133.

    Residents who encounter any instances of suspected price gouging are urged to contact the Attorney General's Office.

    On Tuesday, President Donald Trump also approved federal funds and FEMA assistance ahead of the storm.

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