Horry County emergency officials are encouraged by early estimates of evacuations and continuing to urge those still here to get out while they still have that option.
Randy Webster, director of the county’s emergency management department, said an estimated 60 percent of residents in local evacuation zone have complied with Gov. Henry McMaster’s order as of Wednesday morning.
Webster was encouraged by the figure — only 50 percent of residents followed evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Matthew, he said — though he wants to get as close to 100 percent evacuated as possible.
Webster was one of several officials to speak Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at the county emergency operations center, where emergency personnel filled every available seat.
The center may need to be evacuated if the hurricane surpasses Category 1 conditions, but Webster said the county has contingency plans in place, though a move would limit personnel’s capabilities.
County fire chief Joseph Tanner emphasized that residents will be on their own once winds surpass 60 mph.
“If you’re in trouble, you’re on your own,” Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill said, continuing to urge evacuation.
Webster said several thousand local, state and federal emergency personnel are in the area, and he expects that number to grow after the hurricane hits.
County council chairman Mark Lazarus pleaded with residents that are staying to stay in their homes and listen to emergency personnel.
“What we’re hearing is this could be the most unprecedented storm of our lifetimes,” Lazarus said.
Webster said county officials are feeling confident in their preparation to start recovering shortly after the storm, but added that “things will be different when this is over.”
David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 843-626-0305