Governor praises state's Irma response: 'It worked very, very well'

Gov. Henry McMaster praised the efforts he saw at a Columbia-area hurricane shelter Monday afternoon.

McMaster said he spoke to roughly half of the 60 people inside the shelter at Dent Middle School.

"They're all secure, happy, safe, for the duration," he said. "Some of them have said they were just passing through, one family was on the way to Georgia and they said people have been so nice to them that they're thinking they're probably going to stay in South Carolina."

He called the shelter a "first-class operation" and praised people who had donated items and their time to help others.

"We're delighted they're here and we want to help them any way we can," he said.

He said everything is being provided. One woman at the shelter needs dialysis, something the shelter wasn't prepared to provide, but he said that critical medical treatment will be provided for her on Tuesday.

"I think it's been a real good experience under these circumstances," he said. "It's worked very, very well. I'm real proud of everybody involved."

McMaster also lauded the early efforts to inform the public of the danger of the powerful hurricane when early forecast tracks had it pointed towards South Carolina.

"It seems the early precautions and the information that was disseminated on the state and local level have been quite effective in getting the word out to get the people safe," he said.

He said the main concern now is still rain and winds that could cause injuries. He said he is also concerned that when the rain stops and winds die down, people will immediately want to get out of the house and explore damage and could be injured.

He said roads on the barrier islands for which he issued evacuation orders are not passable and will not be for some time.

About 250,000 customers in South Carolina are without power as the winds from Tropical Storm Irma topples trees and power lines.

Most of the outages Monday afternoon were reported by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and South Carolina Electric and Gas.

McMaster says flood waters and downed trees have closed more than 80 roads in South Carolina.

But McMaster said Monday afternoon he knew of no fatalities amid Tropical Storm Irma, which brought wind gusts of up to 72 mph on Folly Beach and the state's third-highest recorded storm surge.

The governor says the road closures are spread across seven counties.

As of noon Monday, 25 shelters were housing nearly 900 evacuees.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.