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Irma’s approach prompts McMaster to order state of emergency

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Gov. Henry McMaster today declared a state of emergency, asking South Carolinians to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

According to the executive order, the National Hurricane Center has determined from forecast models that the state of South Carolina may be impacted by Irma, which is currently a Category 5 hurricane.

“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams on earth to begin organizing response efforts,” McMaster said via his Twitter account. “South Carolina is fortunate to have time to allow us to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall, and it is important that families and individuals in vulnerable areas use that time to review safety plans in case they are needed.”

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service’s model of the storm showed it tracking towards South Carolina with the possibility of making landfall beginning Monday with winds greater than 110 miles per hour.

McMaster’s order directs that South Carolina’s Emergency Operations Plan be placed into effect and the activation of certain units of the state’s National Guard to assist citizens in the state.

As of noon, the S.C. Emergency Management Division reported it was at “OpCon4,” which is just one step from normal activity.

Irma’s possible arrival will be a month shy of the Oct. 8 anniversary of Hurricane Matthew, which last year pounded the state’s coastal communities and the two-year anniversary of 2015’s “thousand-year” rain event, which dumped up to 2 feet of rain in sections of the state and triggered widespread flooding across the Midlands.

The 2015 storm caused an estimated $12 billion in property damage and was blamed for the deaths of 19 South Carolinians. Authorities reported that 52,000 South Carolina residents applied for disaster relief and about 160,000 homes were damaged by the storm.

Reach Travis Boland at 803-726-7543.

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