Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Information


Gov. Henry McMaster Lifts Evacuation Order for 8 Barrier Islands Previously Evacuated
Local Officials to Continue Restricting Access to Hunting, Harbor and Fripp Islands

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In coordination with local officials, Governor Henry McMaster today announced that all evacuation orders have been lifted for residents of the 8 barrier islands previously evacuated, effective today, Tuesday at 9:15 AM, and that local officials are now responsible for permitting access to each of the islands.

Beaufort County:Hilton Head and Daufuskie islands are currently open for re-entry. Local officials will restrict access to Hunting, Harbor and Fripp Islands.

Colleton County: Due to current conditions and damage in Edisto Beach, local officials will restrict access and will announce the re-entry plan at a noon press conference today.

Jasper County: Tulifinny and Knowles islands are open for re-entry.

The governor lifted the evacuation order by issuing Executive Order 2017-26.

The governor also issued Executive Order 2017-27, rescinding the mandatory medical evacuation of healthcare facilities.


Rain, Flash Flooding Possible with T.S. Irma

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Monday, September 11, 2017)– As Tropical Storm Irma continues to affect South Carolina, residents should pay close attention to weather conditions throughout the state. The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center predict that T.S. Irma could produce three to six inches of rain along with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Flooding is possible in low-lying areas that are normally prone to flood.

A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for the following barrier islands: Edisto Beach in Colleton County; Daufuskie, Fripp, Harbor, Hunting and Hilton Head Islands in Beaufort County; and Knowles and Tullifiny in Jasper County.

SCEMD urges everyone to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local media, to review emergency plans and to use caution as conditions warrant. 

Be Aware of High Wind, Heavy Rain and Flooding: 

  • Limit travel and use extreme caution around down trees and power lines.
  • Treat every down power line as if it were live.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Three to six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not ever try to drive around or move barricades that are blocking a street.
  • Heed warnings issued by local public safety officials. When you hear an official alert, take safety precautions immediately.
  • Be aware that tropical storms can form tornadoes. Pay attention to NOAA Weather Radio alerts for your area and be prepared to seek shelter immediately if NWS issues a tornado warning for your area. 
  • Call 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies only. Residents may call the state hotline at 1-866-246-0133 for all other questions related to Tropical Storm Irma.
  • Residents who need safe shelter from the storm may go to one of 24 emergency shelters that are open across the state. A complete list of shelters is available online:

The South Carolina Emergency Operations Center remains fully activated at Operating Condition One. OPCON 1 is the highest state of emergency operations.


Emergency Shelters Opening

Columbia, S.C. (Saturday, September 9, 2017) – Emergency shelters will be available for residents and visitors who are evacuating from southern coastal areas due to Hurricane Irma.

Shelters are generally the place of last resort. Individuals and families are encouraged to have emergency plans in place. These plans should include relatives or friends with whom you can stay or locations to which you will travel.

In the event that you must use a shelter, please consider the following before arriving:

Bring your own pillows, blankets and cots as these items might not be available at every location.
If you are on a restricted diet, bring your own specialty food items.
A complete list of open shelters is available at and is updated in real-time as more shelters become available.

The Department of Social Services is designated as the lead agency for coordinating mass care operations. In particular, DSS works with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Department of Health and Environmental Control and other state agencies and volunteer relief organizations in disaster situations to coordinate the capability to meet basic human needs (shelter, food, bulk distribution of emergency relief supplies, disaster welfare inquiries, and emergency social services).

Residents evacuating from the southern South Carolina coast may go to one of the following emergency shelters:

Colleton County – OPEN AT 9 a.m.
Colleton County Middle School
1379 Tuskegee Airmen Dr.
Walterboro, S.C.

Jasper County - OPEN AT 10 a.m.
Ridgeland High Junior-Elementary Complex
250 Jaguar Trail
Ridgeland, S.C.

Richland County – OPEN AT NOON
Dent Middle School
2721 Decker Blvd.
Columbia, S.C.



Gov. Henry McMaster Orders Evacuations for Barrier Islands in Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper Counties

COLUMBIA, S.C. –Governor Henry McMaster today ordered the evacuation of certain barrier islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper Counties. Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma, residents on those islands should prepare to evacuate their homes beginning tomorrow, Saturday, September 9 at 10:00 AM. Although the latest Hurricane Irma forecasts are increasingly favorable for South Carolina, the National Weather Service still expects Irma to cause high winds, heavy rains and localized flooding due to a possible storm surge of four to six feet.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of all residents on the following barrier islands beginning no later than 10 a.m. TOMORROW, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9:

Edisto Beach in Colleton County

Daufuskie, Fripp, Harbor, Hunting and Hilton Head Islands in Beaufort County

Knowles and Tullifiny in Jasper County.

Evacuees should pack the following essential items in case the evacuation period is lengthy: required medications, adequate clothing and essential personal items. Emergency shelter locations will be announced as soon as they are open. If you plan to evacuate to a shelter, please be prepared to bring your own blankets, pillows, cots and any special foods if you are on a restricted diet.

Citizens in Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper Counties outside of the barrier islands are encouraged to seek shelter if they have concerns for their personal safety and to be prepared to take safety precautions if they are asked to do so by local public safety officials.

A list of available shelters, staffed by the Department of Social Services and the Red Cross, will be updated on EMD’s website as they open. Shelters scheduled to be operating beginning tomorrow include the Colleton Middle School in Colleton County, Ridgeland High Junior and Elementary School in Jasper County. Bluffton High School and Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County.

South Carolina’s emergency helpline is now active around the clock. Anyone with questions Hurricane Irma should call the Public Information Phone System at 1-866-246-0133.


Gov. Henry McMaster, State Officials to Hold Hurricane Irma Briefing

COLUMBIA, S.C. -Governor Henry McMaster will hold a media briefing with state emergency response officials today, Friday, September 8 at 6:00 PM. The governor will update the public on Hurricane Irma's potential impact to South Carolina.

WHO: Gov. Henry McMaster, state officials

WHAT: Media briefing regarding Hurricane Irma

WHEN:Today, Friday, September 8 at 6:00 PM

WHERE:South Carolina Emergency Operations Center, 2779 Fish Hatchery Road, West Columbia, S.C.


President Donald J. Trump Approves South Carolina Emergency Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of South Carolina and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irma beginning on September 6, 2017, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.  This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property, and ensure public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 46 South Carolina counties and the Catawba Indian Nation.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding. 

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Willie G. Nunn as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas. 




Columbia, S.C. (Friday, Sept. 8, 2017)– Residents in South Carolina who have questions about Hurricane Irma can now call the state’s toll-free hotline. Operators with the Public Information Phone System (PIPS) are available 24 hours a day for as long as is needed.

If you have questions about Hurricane Irma, such as about the state’s response or safety precautions you should take, call this hotline:



The state Emergency Operations Center is now fully activated at Operating Condition Three as state agencies prepare for any possible effects from Hurricane Irma. OPCON 3 ensures the appropriate specific hazard emergency plans are activated and ready should an emergency situation be imminent.   

For more information, visit or follow @SCEMD on Twitter and Facebook.

South Carolina Should Prepare for Hurricane Irma
Columbia (Wednesday, September 6) - Governor Henry McMaster today issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and, along with the S.C. Emergency Management Division, has urged South Carolinians to prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Irma impacting the state. The executive order enables all state agencies to coordinate resources in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which is currently a category five hurricane. Forecasters believe Irma could affect the east coast of the United States in the coming days.
“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “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.”

People in potentially vulnerable areas should review personal safety plans, become familiar with local evacuation zones in coastal counties and locate the nearest hurricane evacuation routes. This information is detailed in the 2017 S.C. Hurricane Guide, currently available at all Walgreen’s stores statewide, at all rest areas along interstates and for download at
Members of the state’s Emergency Response Team will begin reviewing plans and notifying response staff should they be needed. SCEMD Director Kim Stenson continues conference calls with county emergency managers, SERT agencies and local National Weather Service offices. The agencies on these coordination calls share information and discuss emergency plans in advance of any response to the storm.
“It’s too soon to rule out any possibilities,” Stenson said “Hurricane Irma is a dangerous storm and its projected path could put South Carolina in harm’s way. Fortunately, people in South Carolina have time. While we hope we never see a hurricane head our way, we all need prepare for the possible effects.”
The Emergency Management Division has increased operational readiness to Condition 4. OPCON 4 is the next highest response level above normal, day-to-day activities, and emergency managers make initial preparations for the possibility of any hazardous situations. Select personnel from SCEMD’s Operations and Preparedness sections continue to monitor Hurricane Irma from the State Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia.
Know Your Zone
SCEMD encourages everyone living near or visiting the coast to “Know Your Zone” in case a hurricane prompts an evacuation.  Visit the “Know Your Zone” section at to use an interactive map showing new, color-coded coastal evacuation zones, routes and links to county emergency management pages with detailed hurricane evacuation information. Use the Know Your Zone Map to locate your evacuation zone.
South Carolina Hurricane GuideDownload the South Carolina Hurricane Guide
SCEMD Completely updated for 2017, the official South Carolina Hurricane Guide has information on how to prepare for a hurricane, what to do during a storm and how best to start the recovery process.

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