Even as the latest projections show Hurricane Irma possibly shifting to a path west of Charleston, Mayor John Tecklenburg says the city is preparing for the storm to make a significant impact on Charleston.
In response to the approaching storm, Charleston City Council made the decision Thursday evening to declare a state of emergency for the city of Charleston.
Tecklenburg said the safety of citizens and their property is the city's No. 1 concern during the storm.
According to Mayor Tecklenburg, more than 20,000 sandbags were distributed by the city on Thursday. For comparison, approximately 15,000 sandbags were given to Charleston residents during the entirety of preparations for Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Mark Wilbert, director of Emergency Management for the city joined the mayor in urging residents to begin making efforts for evacuation.
"We cannot overemphasize how dangerous this storm could be and likely will be for the city of Charleston. It is a dangerous storm," says Wilbert. "It is much more dangerous than Hurricane Matthew. Comparing this to Hurricane Matthew is a bad comparison."
Charleston County officials say that emergency shelters will be opened if and when Gov. McMaster calls for a mandatory evacuation of the coast. McMaster says that an order of evacuation will likely come Saturday morning if necessary.
Charleston residents can call the citizens' information line at 843-973-7219 beginning tomorrow for answers to any questions they may have related to the storm.
According to city officials, city public service workers continue working to clear drains and improve system flow in advance of the storm, and city staff has been going door-to-door notifying "vulnerable populations" about the storm’s potential impact, including outreach to homeless individuals as well as those in the city’s public housing.
Beginning Friday at 5 p.m., all city parking garages, with the exception of the parking garage at the Gaillard Center, will be free for residents looking to store their vehicles during the storm.