Tropical Storm Irma killed at least four people in South Carolina, state and local officials said Tuesday as they continued to assess the storm’s damage.
Meanwhile, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the evacuation order for eight coastal islands that he issued ahead of the powerful storm. He warned drivers to prepare for traffic and detours as they head home.
“We urge everyone to use patience as you return home,” McMaster said. “We want everyone to be safe.”
Officials said 162 roads in 22 counties – most of them secondary routes – still were closed Tuesday morning because of fallen trees and flooding. Pockets of congestion also have formed on Interstates 26 and 95 as evacuees returned home to Florida, Georgia and the S.C. Lowcountry.
Experts warned the Santee River near Jamestown, Waccamaw River near Conway and Black Creek near Quinby could flood later Tuesday, after Irma dumped as much as 8 inches of rain on parts of South Carolina.
There also could be “minor coastal flooding” about 1 pm. Tuesday, including in the Charleston and Hilton Head areas, according to John Quagliariello, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Columbia.
McMaster said on Twitter that he would be lifting evacuation orders ahead of his Tuesday morning press conference.
“Local officials will restrict access to Edisto Beach, Hunting, Fripp and Harbor Islands,” McMaster tweeted. “(Hilton Head Island), Daufuskie and all of Jasper (County) are open.”
Roadblocks and detours are possible as residents return to areas that have seen storm damage and flooding. “Please do not drive around barricades for any reasons,” he said.
At least four people died in South Carolina during the storm.
▪ Charles Saxon, 57, of Calhoun Falls, died Monday after being hit by a tree limb, McMaster said.
▪ Zhen Tain, 21, died Monday in a traffic collision on I-77 near Columbia that S.C. Public Safety director Leroy Smith attributed to storm conditions. Smith said Tain was driving too fast, lost control of his car, sideswiped another vehicle, hit a guard rail and then overturned.
▪ Arthur Strudwick, a city of Columbia employee, also died Monday after he responded to a downed tree. Strudwick was critically injured in single-vehicle crash during the height of the storm’s impact, Columbia city manager Teresa Wilson said in a statement. Strudwick was rushed to the hospital where he died.
▪ William McBride, 54, died of carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving a generator running inside his mobile home, according to the Sumter County coroner. McBride was found at his home and pronounced dead about 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Coroner Robert Baker. He said McBride’s death was accidental.
S.C. Transportation Department secretary Christy Hall said Interstates 26 and 95 were experiencing pockets of congestion. However, most of the roads closed during the storm were re-opened overnight, Hall said.
The Harbor River Bridge in Beaufort County and a portion of I-95 in Dillon County currently are closed, she said. On Edisto Beach, up to two feet of sand washed onto Palmetto Boulevard, Hall said.
Law enforcement personnel currently are searching Edisto Beach to be sure all 62 residents who stayed there, despite the evacuation order, are safe. An earlier search of Daufuskie Island confirmed more than 100 residents who stayed there made it through the storm in one piece.