BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and elected officials in the southern counties of South Carolina urged people to monitor the developments of Hurricane Florence on Wednesday morning after the storm's projected landfall took a slight turn to the south on Tuesday night.
Beaufort County was initially one of the counties Gov. Henry McMaster placed under a mandatory evacuation order on Monday. Then on Tuesday, he lifted that order for Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper Counties. The exception for Colleton County was Edisto Island, he said.
School districts in Colleton and Beaufort Counties announced they would remain closed for the rest of the week as a safety precaution.
"We strongly urge those who can make the decision (to leave or stay) now," Sheriff P.J. Tanner said. "If you have the ability to move into Georgia and Florida we would recommend that you do that. We are taking this storm very seriously and so should you."
Tanner stressed that just two days ago, the threat to Beaufort County was minimal before it turned.
"The positive side to this is that we're not competing in evacuations with Georgia and Florida," Tanner said.
Lt. Col. Neil Baxley reminded residents that Hurricane Matthew was a wind event for Beaufort when it took seven days to restore power with trees down. Hurricane Irma brought some storm surge to the county and the 2015 floods also caused some issues.
"We're seeing in Beaufort County the potential for all three of those things," Baxley said. "We've had our test. Now is time to face the exam."
We added that authorities and rescue officials are "primed and ready to go."
"We're called the Lowcountry for a reason," Baxley said. "There are a lot of places out there that will flood. Think about where you live, where your property is at, and what happened during Matthew and what happened during Irma."
"Your safety is paramount importance to us, Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett said. "I'm pleased with the amount of preparedness and execution that has gone on to this point."
"I have 100 percent confidence that they will execute perfectly on your behalf. God Bless you all," he added.