South Carolina declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma

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SOUTH CAROLINA — South Carolina governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Wednesday.

McMaster took tweeted out the statement, asking South Carolinians to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams on earth to begin organizing response efforts,” he wrote, “South Carolina is fortunate to have time to allow us to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall and it is important that families and individuals in vulnerable areas use that time to review safety plans in case they are needed.”

McMaster declared the state of emergency following the National Hurricane Center’s forecast that Irma’s path shifted east, just off Florida’s coast, with the possibility of hitting Georgia and the Carolinas.

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean with its 185-mph winds shaking homes and flooding buildings.

By early Wednesday afternoon, the center of the storm was 20 miles (35 kilometers) east-southeast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and 90 miles (150 kilometers) east of San Juan, Puerto Rico and heading west-northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

Associated Press contributed to this report.