COLUMBIA, S.C. (WLTX) - South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is urging people in his state to get ready now in case Hurricane Irma makes a direct hit on the state.
"Now is the time to prepare," McMaster said.
Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency around noon Wednesday. The declaration is not an evacuation, however.
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 latest forecast models are projecting a possible landfall in the state early next week. It's still uncertain, however, if that will happen, as the models could shift.
"We do not know when or if it will come, and we do not know how strong it will be if it comes," McMaster said."But we are prepared."
McMaster said he intends to request a presidential disaster declaration, but he has not spoken with President Donald Trump yet.
“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. Henry 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.”
Gov. Henry McMaster Asks South Carolinians to Prepare for Hurricane Irma, Declares State of Emergency pic.twitter.com/IxpyGY4EZX— SC Governor Press (@scgovernorpress) September 6, 2017
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. This information is detailed in the 2017 S.C. Hurricane Guide, currently available at all Walgreen’s stores statewide, at all rest areas along interstates and for download at scemd.org.
"Get prepared," McMaster said. "Just assume that a Category 3 hurricane is arriving tomorrow morning and do what you do then now."
To be clear: There are NO current evacuation orders in South Carolina
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Members of the state’s Emergency Response Team will begin reviewing plans and notifying response staff should they be needed. 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.