[embed-1] With Hurricane Irma tracking to the west, Gov. Henry McMaster has delayed the final decision to evacuate the South Carolina coast, but calls on residents to continue preparing to leave the region.

During a Friday briefing, McMaster said officials will await a 5 p.m. update on Irma’s projected path before issuing an evacuation order that could come around 6 p.m. In the case that residents are ordered to leave the coastal area, evacuations and lane reversals for I-26 would begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest rains and higher chances of tornadoes will come from the eastern side of the storm as it passes to the west of South Carolina. Any shift to the east would bring a much greater impact to the area. Even if Irma maintains its current course, significant storm surge to South Carolina’s low-lying coastal areas is expected due to persistent winds and high tide levels. [image-2]McMaster called on South Carolinians to serve as good hosts for the evacuees from Georgia and Florida entering the state in heavy numbers. An additional 27,000 vehicles were counted on South Carolina roads Thursday, with 65,000 more arriving Friday.

McMaster rescinded an emergency evacuation order for inpatient health care facilities in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties Friday. Medical evacuation order remain in effect for Beaufort and Jasper counties as coastal residents await the final decision on a region-wide evacuation.

“We are not out of the woods. I cannot say that enough,” says Cathy Haynes, chief of operations at the Charleston County Emergency Management Department.

Haynes warned that Charleston County could still feel significant impacts from Hurricane Irma and the storm could shift east over the coming days. Tricounty shelters are currently on standby and will open if and when an emergency evacuation is ordered by the governor. In addition to the five storm shelters managed by Charleston County, Dorchester and Berkeley counties are prepared to open 14 additional shelters if necessary. Both Charleston and Dorchester counties will be able to offer pet-friendly shelters, the location of which will be announced in the case of an evacuation.

Local officials and emergency managers stress that Charleston-area residents do not let their guards down and continue to prepare for the effects of Irma.

“There’s an old saying, there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. We’ve been kicked quite a few times. The older of us have been kicked more than the younger. If you don’t learn from that somethings wrong with you,” says Charleston County Council Chairman Vic Rawl.

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