McMaster on Dorian: ‘This is a serious storm, heed the warnings’

VIDEO: Gov. McMaster: 'Heed the warnings' about Hurricane Dorian

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - If you are in the evacuation zones of eight coastal South Carolina counties, the time to leave is now, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The entire South Carolina coastline was under either a hurricane watch or warning. Charleston and Berkeley Counties were under a hurricane warning, the stronger of the two. Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Georgetown and Horry Counties are under a hurricane watch.

National Weather Service Meteorologist John Quagliariello said life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are expected along the South Carolina coast, regardless of the exact track of Dorian’s center.

“If you live along the coast and haven’t prepared yet because you feel during won’t be a threat because the center is forecast to pass offshore, you’re making a mistake,” Quagliariello said. “If you wait until the last minute to leave on Wednesday, you may not be able to because some of those low lying post roadways may already be flooded from the morning high tide and stay high through the day.”

South Carolina Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said the lane reversal of I-26 will remain in place for as long as leaders feel it is required.

The state currently has 20 shelters open including 15 general population shelters and five medical need shelters.

Crews from Dominion Energy were on standby to deal with power outages caused by the storm. The company maintains more than 21,000 miles of lines in South Carolina. Major storms can cause tree limbs and entire trees to break and fall, sometimes taking power lines with them.

During Monday afternoon’s briefing, McMaster praised efforts to complete a reversal of I-26 between Charleston and Columbia. The reversal began at approximately 10:38 a.m. Monday, just less than 90 minutes ahead of originally scheduled. The acceleration came after Department of Transportation officials noticed a sharp increase in traffic on I-26 Monday morning.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said the state’s law against price gouging is in effect since McMaster issued a statewide state of emergency. The law is in effect until the state of emergency expires or is terminated. Price gougers can be charged for excessive pricing, a misdemeanor offense punishable with a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail, Wilson said.

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