CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - City and county leaders Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties urged the public to be ready for the worst while meteorologists try to pinpoint the path Hurricane Dorian will take by the time it nears South Carolina.
There has been no official decision on evacuations or school closings because counties were waiting to see what state leaders planned to do on Monday.
Charleston County Emergency Management Director Jason Patno said the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center is set to begin 24-hour operations as early as Monday.
The county’s citizen information line is open until 8 p.m. Sunday and will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday. The number for Charleston County residents is 843-746-3900. For Spanish speakers, the number is 843-746-3909.
“We are encouraging everyone to be diligent,” Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey said. “Pay attention get prepared now.”
Charleston County Council declared a state of emergency for the county during a 3 p.m. meeting held just before the news conference, he said.
Sheriff Al Cannon had a message for people who had recently moved into the area and may not have experienced a hurricane firsthand.
“Let me assure you that each one of these storms is different, and it impacts us in different ways,” Cannon said. “Do not base your action or inaction on whatever level experience you’ve had, or what you’ve done in the past, or what you’ve seen on TV.”
Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb said his county also declared a state of emergency as of 2 p.m. Sunday.
Berkeley County went to OPCON 1 as of 1 p.m., he said.
Cribb said the county has issued 4,000 sandbags so far and the operation will continue. He urged residents to monitor the county’s Facebook page for sandbag locations.
Berkeley County’s Citizen Information Line is 843-719-4800, he said.
Cribb said the county’s animal control center is full and is closed.
“We ask residents, please don’t come and drop off animals at the animal center,” he said.
So far, the county planned for its Convenience centers to remain open until 7 p.m. Tuesday, and the landfill will remain open until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, he said.
Dorchester County Council Chairman George Bailey said county council voted to move to OPCON 1 at 8 a.m. Monday.
Citizen Information Lines are 843-832-0393 or 843-560-0393 and will open to receive calls at 8 a.m. Monday, he said.
“The current message to the public is to be prepared and be ready to move in a short order,” Bailey said. “I’m telling you ladies and gentlemen, this is a very, very serious hurricane. And we need to stay alert.”
Mayor Keith Summey said the city has 20,000 sandbags that will be distributed at three locations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. At the locations, residents will not need to get out of their vehicles.
“You open the door or the trunk, wherever you want it to go, and we’ll put eight bags of sand in your vehicle for you," he said.
The three locations are Festival Center at Ashley Phosphate at Dorchester Road; Military Magnet High School and Park Circle, he said.
“And when we run out of the 20,000 bags that we already have, we will have sand brought in along with shovels and another 20,000 bags and allow our people to continue to fill their bags so they can have them if they didn’t get in the first call,” he said.
As of 9 a.m. Monday, the city will open its Citizen Information Line with two phone numbers: 843-740-5883 and 843-740-5887.
Mayor John Tecklenburg urged everyone to take the storm seriously.
“With sustained winds of 185 miles an hour, this could be the most powerful hurricane in recorded Atlantic history,” he said.
The city will distribute sandbags beginning at Monday at 8 a.m. at its Milford Street Facility and additional locations to be announced later Sunday evening, he said.
The Citizen Information Line for Charleston residents is 843-724-7311.
He said the city is placing auxiliary pumps at locations where flooding has occurred in the past and plans were also underway to lower levels of Colonial Lake and other retention areas, he said.
Earlier Sunday, Gov. Henry McMaster said state agencies began mobilizing resources, including state law enforcement, the National Guard and first responders.
“South Carolina Department of Transportation has increased the number of the motorist assistance trucks on our I- 95 and I-26," McMaster said. "All of the South Carolina Welcome Centers and rest areas open and staffed 24 hours a day. DHEC has alerted all private dam owners to prepare for notification to lower water levels in advance of significant amounts of rainfall. The Department of Social Services is planning to open their shelters across the state If and as needed.”