EMD Director Randy Webster

Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster, left, speaks at a news conference in Conway Wednesday.

Those in Horry County’s evacuation Zone A still have time to clear out, county officials stressed at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Now’s the time to make sure you’ve got everything in place and everything you need,” Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster said, “and if you’re in evacuation Zone A to go ahead and leave.”

After thrashing parts of the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian — currently a Category 2 storm with winds of roughly 105 miles per hour — remains a strong hurricane and is tracking slowly north and northwest off the Florida coast, according to the National Weather Service. 

Gov. Henry McMaster issued an evacuation order for coastal South Carolina, which went into effect Monday at noon. The order affected Zone A, which covers areas east of U.S. 17 Business. 

Officials said Horry County should start to see impacts from Dorian Wednesday into tomorrow.

“For the course of this event right now, flash flooding, heavy rains, tropical storm force winds, hurricane wind gusts, potential for tornadoes are all on the table as we work through this event,” Webster said.

Webster estimated that only about 15% of those in Zone A had evacuated as of Wednesday afternoon, but hoped more would decide to leave the area.

He encourages those still in Zone A to leave the area by the time the sun sets Wednesday evening as well as those outside the evacuation zone to be prepared.

He said on Wednesday evening conditions will begin to deteriorate, with tropical storm force winds arriving in the area early Thursday morning. 

Things will become progressively worse throughout the rest of the day tomorrow, and Webster said hurricane force winds are expected along the coast — roughly from Conway to the beach.

“Everything west of Conway will be tropical force storm winds, which could reach up to 70 to 74 miles per hour throughout the day tomorrow,” Webster said.

Authorities also anticipate significant power outages and severe storm surge along the coast in addition to flooded roads.

The region is expected to see anywhere from six to 10 inches of rainfall, Webster said, and that may be higher in certain localities.

The emergency management division doesn’t foresee the type of extreme flooding that wreaked havoc on parts of the county last year.

“However, we will see significant flash flooding taking place overnight tonight as the rain bands come on shore and through the day tomorrow and into Thursday night,” Webster said.

Webster said county residents should keep in mind low-lying areas and roads that typically flood during events with fast rainfall. He advised not driving on roads with water on them. 

Emergency management officials have been working with authorities to determine the potential for flooding in the coming days, and the county has also been in contact with its municipal partners, hospitals, utility companies and other entities.

Webster said public safety agencies will continue responding to calls, but could halt their response depending on how rough conditions are. 

“We’re not going to put first responders at risk for people who chose not to leave,” he said. “If we can get to calls, we will. There will be a point of time sometime tomorrow where that could be a very real possibility.”

Because outages can last days, he said having necessary supplies in place beforehand is vital.

Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill recommends beach goers to come inside tonight once it is dusk, staying out of the surf and making sure one’s neighbors are OK.

“There’s folks who are gonna be by themselves during this event,” he said. “Just keep an eye out for them.”

Horry County Fire Rescue Chief Joey Tanner said there are additional resources currently in Horry County. 

High-water vehicles have been assigned to some of the county’s fire stations, and additional boat crews have been brought in in case emergency personnel need to enter flooded areas.

Officials also stress not calling 911 unless there is a serious emergency. One who needs storm-related information can call the county’s hotline 843-915-5150.

For locals needing a place to stay, there are multiple American Red Cross shelters in the county. Red Cross officials ask those staying at the shelter to be prepared by bringing items such as a pillow, blanket, sleeping bad and any needed medication. There were 276 people staying in the shelters as of Wednesday afternoon. The capacity of all the shelters in the area combined is 3,840. 

Horry County schools and all county offices will be closed Thursday and Friday. 

There are different resources available to monitor information on the storm. One can install the HCConnect app on their phone as well as stay updated via the Horry County Emergency Management Divisions’ social media pages.

Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner urged county residents to not be complacent.

“You start getting into a false sense of security,” he said. “We hope nothing happens but something can always happen when you have a hurricane … off the coast moving up slowly.”

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