SC Gov. McMaster orders evacuations for Barrier Islands in three counties

Marsha Scott
September 9, 2017

Duke officials continue to track and monitor Hurricane Irma off the Florida coast and are making preparations for potential impact on North Carolina early next week.

The powerful storm - now downgraded to a category 4 but still extremely unsafe - made landfall in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday evening with winds as high as 175 miles per hour, and isn't expected to slow down through this morning.

In Chatham County, Gov. Nathan Deal has moved the state's mandatory evacuation order to a voluntary order for people living in flood zones B and C because of Irma's shift to the west. It is forecast to still be a major hurricane, Category 3 or higher, just north of Tampa before eventually downgrading to a tropical depression as it passes through southwest Georgia. Officials expect to know if the Carolinas are in the storm's path within the next two days.

"The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency-response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts", McMaster said via press release.

McMaster said he will decide Friday whether to ask people to leave the coast.

"That is a very long time for you to be injured", he said.

Spayberry and Pfaff both said Wednesday storms along the coast were unrelated to the hurricane, and weather should remain clear until Irma makes her presence known sometime during the weekend.

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Hurricane Irma has caused "enormous damage" to the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the Dutch Royal Navy said on Thursday. "They are getting prepared for this storm as soon as they can".

"I am going to pick up 30 generators", James said.

Joe Dinatale, who was waiting with his rescue dog Biscuit, said he chose to leave town after evacuating for Hurricane Matthew past year.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma's maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 155 miles per hour while some fluctuations in strength are likely over the next day or two - but it is expected to stay a category 4 storm.

Lane said she was planning on staying with family in Effingham County after safely staying there when Hurricane Matthew's tropical storm force winds hit a year ago.

They also say resources are limited nationwide after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, so that's why a community in Georgia reached out to Oklahomans for help.

At around 9 a.m. the roads had little traffic as the Interstate 16 contraflow was in effect and Georgia State Patrol vehicles waited at various exits.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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