Weather News

Hurricane Dorian closings: Riverbanks Zoo, Midlands VA offices shut during storm

Watch: Even the gorillas aren’t fans of this month’s heavy rainfall in Columbia SC

A group of gorillas huddled in a dry corner of their enclosure at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C., as heavy rain fell on May 3. Then they made a run for it — all while gritting their teeth and hugging the wall.
Up Next
A group of gorillas huddled in a dry corner of their enclosure at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C., as heavy rain fell on May 3. Then they made a run for it — all while gritting their teeth and hugging the wall.

The animals at Columbia’s zoo are just as prepared for Hurricane Dorian as the capital city’s human residents.

Riverbanks Zoo will be closed to the public on Thursday due to the threat of inclement weather from the hurricane as it passes by the state’s coast, the zoo announced on Wednesday.

A zoo spokesperson said the closure is a precautionary measure. Zoo staff will continue to monitor the storm and animals that have indoor enclosures will be moved inside Wednesday night.

The main concern for personnel is how a power loss could affect the aquarium and animals who depend on climate-controlled environments, like the penguins, said John Davis, the zoo’s director of animal care. Staff were testing power generators ahead of the storm, and drawing up plans to move birds out of open-air aviaries in case of high winds.

Riverbanks isn’t the only Columbia-area closure due to Dorian. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced three offices would close Thursday due to the storm. Outpatient clinics in Florence, Orangeburg, and Sumter will close Thursday and reopen Friday, the VA announced.

All three are in counties that were under tropical storm warnings on Wednesday, along with Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Sumter, and Lee counties in the Midlands. Richland and Lexington counties were not under a watch or a warning as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Columbia area is expected to see an inch of rain on Thursday as Dorian passes near the coast. Sustained wind speeds on Thursday could reach 25 miles per hour with up to 40 mile per hour gusts, according to the National Weather Service in Columbia.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the coast of South Carolina evacuated earlier this week, and warned Wednesday of dangerous flooding and high tides along the coast due to the storm.

Any evacuees in the Columbia area can get free admission to the S.C. State Museum Thursday through Sunday, the state museum said in a statement on Wednesday. The museum will be operating normal hours through the weekend.

There is a minor possibility of river flooding in the eastern Midlands, but rivers in the Columbia area do not appear threatened, the weather service said.

Several school districts in parts of the state are also closing due to Dorian.

Hurricane Dorian made landfall over Cape Hatteras, NC at 8:35 a.m, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm pounded the coast with heavy rain and wind, causing severe flooding and power outages across the state.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Dorian

See all 10 stories
Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
  Comments