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BREAKING: Gov Deal expands state of emergency, issues mandatory evacuation order

Henry McMaster announced his decision on hurricane evacuations Friday evening.

Emergency officials in SC are warning residents to remain alert as Hurricane Irma approaches. The order remains in effect for Jasper, Colleton and Beaufort counties, though some hospitals have asked for waivers.

Five shelters will open Saturday: Colleton Middle School in Colleton County; Ridgeland High Junior and Elementary School in Jasper County; and Bluffton High School and Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County.

As Irma approaches the region, its large swells, storm surge and high tides may cause water along the coast to rise 6 feet above ground level near Charleston, which Dixon said could have a "pretty devastating result".

That order is aimed at preventing a repeat of October 2015, when bursting and overflowing dams amid historic 24-inch rains worsened deadly flooding.

McMaster said he is awaiting the next update from the National Hurricane Center.

Major coastal flooding is possible, threatening to cut off many coastal areas, including routes to and from barrier islands.

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As recently as 2:00 p.m. EDT yesterday, Irma's forecast track suggested the category five system would plow through the center of the Palmetto State early next week.

In Jasper County, evacuations will happen for Knowles and Tullifiny Islands. Actual impacts may be very different if the track moves to the west and affects the Gulf coast.

Even as Irma tracks west, hurricane force winds could extend up to 70 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds can extend 185 miles.

A rip current advisory has been issued for the county's beaches.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, he said though a mandatory evacuation has not been officially ordered yet, if people are able to, they can begin leaving coastal areas.

"Irma will likely bring periods of heavy rain to much of Georgia, South Carolina, and western North Carolina early next week", the NHC said, "All areas seeing heavy rainfall from Irma will experience a risk of flooding and flash flooding".

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