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SC Gov. Henry McMaster declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state emergency for South Carolina at midday Saturday in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian hitting the state.

In a statement, the governor said he urges South Carolina residents to prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Dorian impacting the state.

“Given the strength and unpredictability of the storm, we must prepare for every possible scenario,” McMaster said. “State assets are being mobilized now and Team South Carolina is working around the clock to be ready, if necessary. We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now – there is no reason for delay.”

The declaration authorizes state and local emergency management agencies to mobilize assets and resources to be staged along the coast ahead of the potential impact from the hurricane.

Sunday, McMaster ordered an evacuation of certain coastal areas.

The path of Hurricane Dorian, a Category 4 storm, shifted “dramatically” to the east early Saturday, heightening concerns about torrential rain and flooding in the Carolinas, McClatchy reported.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Dorian was less than 640 miles southeast of Charleston, heading westward at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.

The National Weather Service of Columbia said in its latest update on the storm sent out at 11:40 a.m. Saturday that Dorian is likely to hit the east coast of Florida late Monday through Tuesday. Forecaster predict the storm may hit South Carolina next week, according to governor’s statement.

There are no watches or warnings in effect for the Midlands of South Carolina, the weather service said.

Meteorologist predicted that the storm’s wind will weaken to tropical storm force before it hits the eastern counties of the state with sustained winds above 39 mph. Heavy rainfall may be more likely for central South Carolina depending on the course of the storm but how much rain is unclear, the National Weather Service said.

State emergencies are declared by executive order of the South Carolina governor. The South Carolina National Guard and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state’s police force, are activated and are assigned specific duties during an emergency declaration.

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The South Carolina Emergency Response Team is now at Operational Condition Level Two. OPCON 2 means a disaster or emergency will likely affect the state and state emergency plans are implemented. The State Emergency Operations Center is partially activated with SCEMD staff in preparation for a full-scale activation Sunday.

“We’ve been watching Hurricane Dorian very closely over the past week. The current forecast track indicates Dorian will stay out to sea, just off the coast of Florida, and may impact South Carolina,” South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson said. “It is vital that every resident have a personal emergency plan and be ready to take action if told to do so.”

McMaster and emergency officials encouraged residents to download the SC Emergency Manager mobile app. The app provides official emergency information and allows people build a personal emergency plan, keep track of emergency supplies and stay connected with family and relations.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
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