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When will SC schools open? Are roads closed? The State answers your storm questions

See the state of the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach on Saturday afternoon

See the storm on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach during tropical storm Florence on Saturday, Sept. 15.
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See the storm on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach during tropical storm Florence on Saturday, Sept. 15.

The worst of then-Hurricane Florence appears to be over for South Carolina.

But state emergency officials still stressed caution on Sunday after Florence — now a tropical depression — doused the Palmetto State with rain all weekend.

A flash-flood watch remains in effect for Lancaster, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw and Lee counties. A tornado watch until 5 p.m. Sunday is in effect for the areas of Myrtle Beach, Dillon, Cheraw, Lake City and Florence. The state is under a lake wind advisory.

State emergency officials said on Sunday the S.C. areas potentially hardest hit were Dillon, Marion and Marlboro counties.

Around 1 inch of rain was expected in the central Midlands and up to 5 inches in the Catawba and Pee Dee areas.

The S.C. Department of Public Safety said at least six people have died in South Carolina as a result of the storm.

The State is answering reader’s questions about Florence throughout the duration of the storm. Responses will be posted as stories, online and on our social media channels.

To submit a question, please fill out this form.

Are people still evacuating?

For the most part, no.

If they have not started already, most S.C. coastal residents will return home on Sunday.

On Saturday, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster lifted his evacuation order for Horry and Georgetown counties — which took effect at 9 a.m. Sunday — following similar action for Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley and Colleton counties.

McMaster stressed on Saturday that returning residents drive with caution and expect long travel times, blocked roadways or detours.

State officials said evacuation orders could be reimposed if conditions worsen or change.

Early Sunday, the Chesterfield County Emergency Management issued a CodeRed alert to residents due to potential flash flooding. The warning advised Chesterfield residents in flood-prone areas move to higher ground immediately.

The S.C. Emergency Management Division said about 100 people were evacuated late Saturday from the town of Mullins because of flooding concerns.

Are any roads, highways closed?

Yes.

Florence dumped more than 2 feet of rain in some parts of the state, causing trees to fall and some roads to flood.

The S.C. Department of Transportation said it expects at least four bridges to be submerged by flood waters: S.C. 917 and U.S. 501 over the Little Pee Dee, and S.C. 9 over both the Lumber and Waccamaw rivers.

Meanwhile, DOT is working to install flood barriers on the 501 Bypass near Conway and U.S. 378 over the Lynches River — both considered flood-prone areas. Those structures are expected to be in place by Monday night.

DOT said I-95 — from exit 181 (S.C. 38) to exit 190 (S.C. 34) — is closed due to flooding. Currently, there is not a passable detour and motorists should avoid the area, the agency said.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the S.C. transportation agency reported 58 road and bridge closures across the state due to the storm.

Most of those closures are reported on or near the coast.

In the Midlands area — experiencing wind gusts from 15 mph to even 40 mph in the areas of Sumter and Lee counties — DOT said over the past 24 hours, 117 trees have been cleared from roads.

Around the Lake Murray area, Ervin Price Road closed in both directions from Beulah Church to Shore roads and Wessinger Road is closed because of a downed tree and power line.

Dirt road Jones Wire Road in Swansea is closed between Swansea an Whetstone roads.

State officials cautioned motorists to avoid driving on roads where power lines are down or trees have fallen. Drivers should not walk or drive through flood waters.

Are the SC airports open?

Yes.

The Columbia Metropolitan Airport is open, though some flights have been canceled, the airport said.

On the coast, the Myrtle Beach International Airport is open, with the majority of its flight operations to resume by mid-morning Sunday. Flight status could vary.

The Charleston International Airport has resumed its normal operations and runways are open.

All three airports advise travelers to arrive at the airport earlier than usual and check with their airlines for flight updates.

When do SC schools reopen?

Midlands area schools reopened on Monday, which include:

Richland One

Richland Two

Lexington One

Lexington-Richland 5

Orangeburg Three, Four and Five districts

County governments, schools and colleges closed this week as then-Hurricane Florence barreled toward South Carolina.

But on Saturday, McMaster said that government offices would reopen on Monday, turning over the decision to open schools back to the local school districts.

Meanwhile, some S.C. colleges will resume classes on Monday.

In a surprise to students, the University of South Carolina said classes will resume on Monday, not Tuesday as originally planned.

Students unable to return to Columbia for Monday classes will not be penalized, USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said.

However, Stensland added, students “are still responsible for the material covered in classes on Monday and are encouraged to contact their instructors in advance about any classes they may miss.”

Tom Barton contributed to this report. Maayan Schechter: 803-771-8657, @MaayanSchechter
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