Governor orders evacuations of SC barrier islands as Irma approaches

Deal adds Echols to state of emergency

One orders nursing homes and hospitals in seven counties on or near the coast to evacuate.

These coastal impacts are based on the National Hurricane Center's September 8 storm track forecast.

The path and strength of the hurricane when and if it hits the Lowcountry is still unknown.

There are no other evacuations planned, McMaster said. He has scheduled another news conference at 6 p.m. Friday.

"We encourage people to be prepared", McMaster said.

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Tropical storm-force winds also are possible Monday in some areas of the state, particularly south of Interstate 26 and in the western half of the Midlands.

Five shelters will open Saturday: Colleton Middle School in Colleton County; Ridgeland High Junior and Elementary School in Jasper County; and Bluffton High School and Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County.

A rip current advisory has been issued for the county's beaches. Evacuees headed to shelters should bring blankets, pillows and cots.

McMaster left the possibility of lane reversals up to law enforcement officials in those three coastal counties.

McMaster also said it's "likely" schools and government offices will be closed on Monday Sept. 11 and Tuesday Sept. 12 in some or all of the 46 counties.

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(AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to decide whether to order residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

As recently as 2:00 p.m. EDT yesterday, Irma's forecast track suggested the category five system would plow through the center of the Palmetto State early next week.

The county and its municipalities have taken action to prepare for Irma. Several counties have announced closings Monday, including Charleston and Richland counties.

Irma is large enough to lash severe winds, perhaps up to 60 miles per hour, and heavy rain, up to 16 inches, across SC, according to the National Weather Service.

Needless to say we will continue keeping a watchful eye over Irma this weekend ... and will continue keeping the people of Florida in our prayers as they appear likely to face the full fury of this storm beginning early Sunday morning.

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