BEAUFORT, S.C. – While a mandatory evacuation has yet to be declared for Beaufort County, Sheriff P.J. Tanner isn’t waiting around to urge people to leave.
At a press conference on Thursday, Tanner told reporters, elected leaders and law enforcement that the general public should take Irma seriously and not compare it with Hurricane Matthew that came through less than a year ago.
“Knowing what Houston and other areas have gone through in other storms and looking at a 50 percent possibly of the worst scenario being us, it’s time to go,” Tanner told News 3.
A Mandatory Evacuation for Beaufort County would have to be signed into existence from Governor Henry McMaster. Local leaders, including Tanner, tell WSAV they expect an evacuation notice early Saturday morning.
Until then, Tanner urged people to use Friday as a day to prepare, travel and leave the state on their own terms.
Once a mandatory evacuation is put into place, people will only be able to drive through per-determined routes put into place by law enforcement.
If people have questions about evacuation routes, hurricane preparations, or anything related to Hurricane Irma, Beaufort County residents are encouraged to call Beaufort County Emergency Management at 843-255-400. Starting Friday there will be an additional five phone lines place from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to answer question. Other non-emergency questions or inquiries are to be routed through calling 211 which will connect a caller with the United Way.
Those interested in public transportation can check out the Palmetto Breeze website.
To keep up with the latest updated with BCSO, you can sign up for Nixle alerts by signing up at bcso.net.
The last ferry from Daufuskie Island is scheduled for noon on Sunday.
Tanner told the crowd that in terms of transportation, the only bridges that will close are those with a drawbridge which will be chained up at 25 mph sustained winds. He said the issues aren’t with bridge but with causeways because of its infrastructure.
While he urged people to evacuate ahead of a mandatory order, Tanner told people to use 911 when necessary for emergencies but also not to abuse the system. Tanner also said that during the brunt of the storm, when winds are of hurricane force, first responders will be taking shelter, and will not be able to initially respond to 911 calls for help.
Stay with WSAV for the latest.