Irma closures

COLUMBIA — While Tropical Storm Irma continued to weaken and veer away from South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster stressed Monday that, "there's still a lot of danger out there."

Storm surge raked the state's lower coastline as high tide passed at noon. The tide at Charleston Harbor is the third highest on record, passing the mark set during Hurricane Matthew a year ago, while the tide passed over beachfront roads in Edisto Beach.

Fears of storm surge led McMaster to order the mandatory evacuation of eight barrier islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties starting Saturday, including Hilton Head Island and Edisto Beach.

The governor said Monday that he did not have a time frame for letting residents return to the evacuated barrier islands.

But the worst of Irma is not over. Wind gusts reached a state-highest 72 mph in Folly Beach and will peak along the coast later Monday, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

McMaster suggested residents and visitors not drive in the afternoon and evening with the storm's high winds and severe rain. And boaters were asked not to go around damage zones because they could run into pieces of broken docks or sunken boats, and cause more property damage with wakes.

Several water rescues have been reported, including in Edisto Beach.

Nearly 147,000 power outages have been reported across South Carolina with most in Charleston, Berkeley, Richland and Lexington counties.

As for 1:30 p.m., 83 road closures, most from fallen trees and some from water, have been reported in seven Lowcountry counties, state transportation officials said. Nearly 2,100 road maintenance staff is out helping with repairs and clearing streets.

More than 1,300 National Guard and state law enforcement officers is providing security and aiding in cleanup. 

The state has opened 25 shelters helping 885 evacuees, some of whom are from other states fleeing Irma. The shelters can accommodate as many as 13,000 people.

Twenty five counties closed offices Monday, while 33 counties closed schools.

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain is Columbia Bureau Chief for The Post and Courier. He was editor of Free Times and was a reporter and editor at The State, The Charlotte Observer and The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina statehouse and congressional delegation. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.