COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency in South Carolina for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday after the official forecasts for the storm shifted east, raising the chances of the first major hurricane strike for the state in almost 28 years.
The declaration allows the state to begin certain preparations for an emergency and allows McMaster to use the National Guard if necessary.
McMaster made the declaration around noon Wednesday after the National Hurricane Center’s forecast on Irma’s track put the prospect of a major hurricane just off the coast of Florida about 200 miles (320 kilometers) away from Charleston next Monday morning.
“We got this,” McMaster said Wednesday at an already scheduled summit on the opioid problem. “We can’t stop the hurricane. If it comes, it’s going to be here, but we can be ready for it.”
The governor planned to talk more about preparations at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Officials encouraged residents near the coast to review the state Emergency Management’s hurricane guide .
The last major hurricane to hit South Carolina was Hugo in September 1989 which came ashore just north of Charleston with winds of 135 mph (215 kph).
Irma on Wednesday had winds of 185 mph (300 kph) and was one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in history.
Officials said it was too early to decide if evacuations were necessary. South Carolina evacuated much of its coast in October when Hurricane Matthew skirted the shoreline before coming ashore just north of Charleston with winds of 75 mph (100 kph).
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)