Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a state of emergency in South Carolina to help prepare for a possible strike early next week from Hurricane Irma.
During a press conference Wednesday, McMaster stressed the declaration is a precaution and not an evacuation order. But he also urged residents to get ready for the possibility of Irma impacting the state.
"Pretend that a category three hurricane is arriving tomorrow morning, and do what you would do then, now."
Listen to the Complete Press Conference:
The declaration allows the state to begin certain preparations for an emergency and allows McMaster to use the National Guard if necessary.
Earlier Wednesday, municipalities across the state announced their emergency plans. The town of Nichols, which suffered massive flooding following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, announced its emergency shelters in case of evacuation.
As of 12 noon, the state was operating at OpCon 4, which is one step from normal activity. Below is a statement from Berkeley County.
OPCON 4 means the Emergency Management Department is monitoring the storm and its potential threat to South Carolina. Agencies and departments will determine personnel availability and assignments. The Berkeley County EOC will be under "Partial Activation," primarily staffed by emergency management personnel.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) shared an infographic via Twitter explaining the different OpCon levels.
South Carolina evacuated much of its coast in October when Hurricane Matthew skirted the shoreline before coming ashore just north of Charleston.
The last major hurricane to hit South Carolina was Hugo in September 1989 with winds of 135 mph (215 kph).