Hurricane Irma

In this geocolor GOES-16 satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at 18:30 UTC (2:30 p.m. EDT), the eye of Hurricane Irma moves northwest just off the coast of Cuba and south of Florida. The National Hurricane Center says it's looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will strike the Florida Keys starting Sunday. (NOAA via AP)

HOGP

Emergency officials hope Hurricane Irma keeps moving west and away from the area, but they’re still preparing for problems.

“The center of the storm is going to be west of our area here,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Rohrbach said Saturday. “Our confidence is increasing that it’s going to keep that westward track.”

But it’s still going to bring heavy rain and winds.

Irma’s rains are expected to begin falling late Sunday afternoon, with the worst expected Monday and Monday night. About 4 to 6 inches is forecast to fall during the event, Meteorologist Tenia Morrison said.

The T&D Region should start feeling wind gusts of 15 to 20 mph on Sunday afternoon. Stronger winds will start late Sunday night.

Strong winds are forecast all day Monday and Monday night, with sustained winds of 25 to 25 mph. Gusts could reach 50 mph. Isolated tornadoes are possible.

The winds should begin to slow on Tuesday to 10 to 15 mph.

In a release, Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley reported that several shelters will still be opening in the county due to the potential for local severe weather impacts.

At 10 a.m. Sunday the following shelters will open:

• Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, 601 Bruin Parkway, Orangeburg.

• Branchville High School, 1349 Dorange Road, Branchville.

• Lake Marion High School, 3656 Tee Vee Road, Santee.

• Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School, 7066 Norway Road, Neeses.

The release encourages people to bring bedding, clothing, medications, children’s stuffed animals and blankets.

County officials say to not bring any alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, weapons or pets.

People needing assistance with transportation to the shelter may contact the Emergency Operations Center at 803-533-6265.

Calhoun County Emergency Services Director Bill Minikiewicz said, “We’re still supposed to get rain and tropical storm gusts.”

The upper end of the county is expected to receive heavy rainfall but Minikiewicz said the “heavier stuff” would be west of Interstate 26.

Calhoun County Emergency Services Manager David Chojnacki said while the storm is moving west with every forecast, “that could change at any time.”

“We’re going to err on the side of caution and provide people a place,” he added.

Calhoun County will be opening the shelter at Calhoun County High School at 5 p.m. Sunday. It is located at 150 Saints Ave, St Matthews.

Emergency Operations Center response teams will be active as well.

“Hopefully this will all be for naught,” Minikiewicz said. “It’s nothing like we were predicted to have a couple of days ago, so we’re lucky on that end.”

There is still a possibility of sporadic power outages due to fallen trees and water or trees on roads.

Bamberg County will open a shelter at noon Sunday at Richard Carroll Elementary School. The school is located at 1980 Main Highway in Bamberg.

Denmark Technical College announced Saturday that due to inclement weather related to Hurricane Irma, all Denmark Tech campuses will be closed Monday, Sept. 11.

Contact the writer: jmack@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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Government Reporter

John Mack is a 2016 graduate of Claflin University. He is an Orangeburg native.

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