The Latest: South Carolina's Hilton Head Island evacuated - KMOV.com

The Latest: South Carolina's Hilton Head Island evacuated

Posted: Updated:
NOAA NOAA

MIAMI (AP) -- The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

   8:15 p.m.

   South Carolina's governor has ordered the evacuation of seven barrier islands, including Hilton Head Island, because they could be inundated by Hurricane Irma.

   Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday that 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) of storm surge is possible on the islands in the southern part of the state even though the center of Irma is forecast to move 200 miles to the west.

   With about 40,000 residents, Hilton Head Island is by far the largest island evacuated. It also has a number of resorts, golf courses and hotels.

   South Carolina Adjutant General Robert Livingston estimates 20,000 people have already left Hilton Head Island.

   Edisto Beach is also being evacuated, along with Harbor, Hunting, Fripp, Daufuskie, Tullifini and Knowles islands.

   McMaster says a change in Irma's track back east might require more evacuations.

   ------

   8:05 p.m.

   Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma.

   The remnants of the deadly hurricane are currently projected to sweep into Alabama and Georgia by Monday morning, bringing strong winds and rain.

   The governor said even though it appears Alabama will escape the brunt of the storm, the state will certainly be affected by the tropical system.

   "We must be ready to respond, no matter what comes our way," Ivey said.

   Under the projected track released Friday, the tropical system is expected to sweep into Alabama Monday morning bringing sustained winds of up to 30 mph, with higher gusts in the eastern part of the state.

   Alabama Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Jim Stefkovich says the greater inland threat for severe weather is in Georgia, but emphasized that could shift.

   ------

   8:05 p.m.

   A handwritten sign on the door of an Orlando Home Depot reads "sorry, out of plywood" -- a nearly universal problem at stores across the city as residents scrambled to collect supplies, board up their houses and wait out the storm.

   Victor Hernandez wandered through the lumber racks just before closing time Friday evening, trying to think up a makeshift solution to protect two big windows at the front of his house.

   Hernandez thinks people might be overreacting in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, which sat over that city for days, dumping rain and causing rushing floods. He doesn't believe this storm, moving more quickly, will be so devastating.

   "I'm from Cuba, we're used to hurricanes. I grew up ready for storms," said Hernandez, who's lived in Orlando seven years and works as a real estate agent and valet driver.

   After his wood run, Hernandez had two more stops to make: Wal-Mart, for some board games, then the liquor store, for a bottle of rum.

   ------

   7:10 p.m.

   Florida has asked 5.6 million people to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, or more than one quarter of the state's population, according to state emergency officials.

   Andrew Sussman, the state's hurricane program manager, said Friday the total includes people throughout the southern half of the state as well as those living in inland Florida in substandard housing who were also told leave due to the dangerous storm that will slam the state this weekend.

   Florida is the nation's third-largest state with nearly 21million people according to the U.S. Census.

   For days Gov. Rick Scott has been urging residents to evacuate, especially those who live in coastal areas that could be flooded due to the walls of water expected from Irma's arrival.

   ------

   6:45 p.m.

   The National Hurricane Center is warning Floridians that even if the storm seems to moving away from the East Coast in the latest tracks, don't get complacent.

   "This is a storm that will kill you if you don't get out of the way," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist and spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

   Feltgen says the storm has a really wide eye, with hurricane-force winds that cover the entire Florida peninsula and potentially deadly storm surges on both coasts.

   "Everybody's going to feel this one," Feltgen said.

   ------

   6:45 p.m.

   As Florida deals with a catastrophic, dangerous hurricane, it may have a financial storm to deal with.

   The annual budget forecast released this week shows, despite an ongoing economic recovery, Florida is expected to bring in just enough money to meet its spending needs.

   That forecast shows the state will have a surplus of just $52 million during the fiscal year that starts in July 2018. The new estimate does not take into account the potential effects that will come from Hurricane Irma.

   In the past some have speculated hurricanes help the economy because of increased spending. But Amy Baker, the state economist whose office helps put together the forecast, says a look at previous hurricanes showed that the state wound up spending more as a result of the disaster.

   ------

   6:15 p.m.

   Hurricane Irma's predicted path continues to inch west as the massive storm, still armed with 155 mph winds, approaches Florida.

   The National Hurricane Center's latest track brings the Category 4 hurricane into southwest Florida, up the state a tad west of the center region, and further east than earlier forecasts.

   However, the margin of error is still large enough that the entire state may get Irma's powerful core. Taking into account Irma's 100-mile-wide hurricane-force winds, University of Miami researcher Brian McNoldy says most of the state will feel Irma's wrath.

   McNoldy says the storm will be "less costly (and) less deadly" on the state's west coast, in comparison to Florida's east coast, where there are more people.

   Forecasters keep moving Irma's projected track a bit west because its long-anticipated turn north keeps getting pushed back. McNoldy says forecasters had expected a high-pressure system to weaken further north, allowing Irma to make the turn, but it is not weakening as fast as originally forecast.

   ------

   5:50 p.m.

   Agricultural charity organization Heifer International said heavy rain and floodwaters from Hurricane Irma has devastated bean and corn crops and pasture land in northern Haiti.

   Hurricane Irma skirted the northwestern coast of the impoverished Caribbean country. There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

   In a statement, Heifer country director Hervil Cherubin says local farmers that the organization works with were able to protect their goats and other livestock thanks to preparations ahead of time.

   Cherubin warned that the flooded pasture land is expected to cause a shortage of forage in the coming months. That and the crop loss will mean that farmers will likely require assistance in the coming months.

   ------

   5:50 p.m.

   When Alix Agudelo heard Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Orlando, her mind turned to the images she recalled from Hurricane Harvey: people stranded on rooftops as the floodwaters raged around them, clinging to tree branches, wading through neck-deep, rushing water.

   She bought three life jackets, just in case, one for herself, one for her 10-year-old daughter, and one for her fiance, Gia Rodriguez. They plan to hunker down in their house, with a little dog named Picasso.

   Agudelo's daughter Alix Balcazar shoveled sand into bags as a city distribution center late Friday afternoon.

   "I'm not scared," the girl declared, and her mother smiled.

   "We don't want her to know much," she whispered. "We pretend to be calm for the little one. She shouldn't have to feel fear."

   ------

   5:25 p.m.

   Researchers calculated that Friday has had the most hurricane activity in the history of the Atlantic region.

   Scientists use a measurement called Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) to give a good snapshot of hurricane activity because it combines storms' wind speeds and how long they spin at such speeds.

   With Irma and Jose Category 4 storms and Katia knocking on the door Category 3, Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach calculated that the entire day -- based on universal time -- Friday had an ACE of 16. That beat out the region's record of 14.3 set on Sept. 11, 1961. Thursday now ranks third for ACE with 14.2 and Wednesday ranks fourth at 14.1.

   "I can't keep up with all the records," says Klotzbach, who keeps numerous hurricane records.

   ------

   5:15 p.m.

   Hurricane Irma has caused extensive flooding and damaged many homes in the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas.

   Minister of Instructure Gold Ray Ewing says damage on the most populated island of Providenciales will total at least half a billion dollars.

   He says no one has yet been able to assess damage on Grand Turk and South Caicos islands.

   In an interview with The Associated Press, Ewing said that a community known as Blue Hill on the northwestern side of Providenciales is "gone" and that homes have been destroyed across the island.

   The Disaster Management Agency says it has no reports yet of any deaths in the British territory.

   Flooding is widespread and power is out throughout the island chain. There are many downed trees and utility poles, making some roads impassable.

   The storm passed near uninhabited West Caicos on Friday afternoon as it headed toward Florida.

   ------

   5:15 p.m.

   Emergency officials in Georgia are ordering the state's coastal residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma. But where should they go?

   The storm's unpredictable path beyond Florida is making that a tough question to answer. A westward shift in the storm forecast Friday put Irma's potential path in the same direction many coastal evacuees had been told to flee.

   On Thursday, when the forecast showed Irma coming up the coastline, Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones had told people in Savannah to "just move west."

   Jones was asked again Friday where residents should head after the National Hurricane Center moved its predicted storm track far inland into southern central Georgia.

   Jones' reply: "Honestly, I can't tell you where safe is."

   ------

   5 p.m.

   The U.S. Navy says four ships are ready to assist with Hurricane Irma relief.

   The U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command said in a statement Friday that Adm. Phil Davidson ordered the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the transport dock ship USS New York and the assault ship USS Iwo Jima to be in position to provide humanitarian relief if requested.

   The statement says the destroyer USS Farragut is already "conducting local operations" and has been ordered to join the group.

   The ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime security and logistical support.

   Irma, which was churning along Cuba's northern coast Friday afternoon, is expected to hit Florida early Sunday morning.

   ------

   5 p.m.

   Miami Beach resident George Neary was on one of the last flights out of Miami International Airport before it closed in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

   The American Airlines flight left for New York around noon Friday.

   "Everyone cheered when we got the OK to take off," Neary said. "It was kind of emotional for a lot of us. We didn't know until it finally left if it was actually going to leave."

   Neary says the checking-in and boarding processes were well organized Friday morning.

   Neary was planning to attend a business convention in New York and had booked his flight long before a hurricane was forecast to hit Florida. Still, he considered staying.

   "I thought about canceling my flight and staying, but I wouldn't be in my condo anyway," Neary said. "I might as well watch it from New York with my fingers crossed."

2:40 p.m.

The Senate has passed a $15.3 billion aid package for victims of Harvey — nearly doubling President Donald Trump's emergency request and adding a deal between Trump and Democrats to temporarily extend the government's ability to borrow money to cover its bills.

The 80-17 vote returns the legislation to the House for a vote Friday that would send it to the White House.

The measure would also fund government agencies through Dec. 8, taking the threat of an Oct. 1 government shutdown off the table.

The aid money comes as Harvey recovery efforts are draining federal disaster aid coffers — and as Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved late Wednesday to add $7.4 billion in money for rebuilding to Trump's $7.9 billion Harvey request.

___

1:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Americans want more bipartisanship. He says his meeting with the two Democratic and two Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday was "very, very friendly."

Trump spoke to reporters before a lunch with Kuwait's Amir al-Sabah. He said he expects Congress to discuss eliminating the debt ceiling, saying it "complicates things."

Once again, Trump is not referring to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, while referencing Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer several times.

Vice President Mike Pence, also in the room, says he agrees with Schumer that Trump striking a deal on the debt ceiling extension — over the objection of Republicans — was "a great moment."

Trump says the debt deal signals more bipartisanship to come.

_____

1:05 p.m.

Top Democrats and President Donald Trump are talking about scrapping the government's debt limit.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says Trump suggested the idea in Wednesday's meeting at the White House.

The California Democrat tells reporters, "Now that's something we can talk about."

Pelosi says she and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer of New York would discuss the idea with their party colleagues.

House Speaker Paul Ryan opposes the idea. He says it would encroach on Congress' power of the purse and legislating authority.

___

10:50 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke by phone Thursday morning to four congressional leaders, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi said earlier that she is the one who asked Trump to send his reassuring tweet about the so-called "Dreamers." Pelosi says she asked Trump to make clear that "Dreamers" wouldn't be subject to deportation during the six months Trump has given Congress to find a solution for them.

The White House says Trump also spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president is "committed to working across the aisle and doing what is needed to best serve the American people."

___

9:25 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the deal the president cut with Democrats on spending, the debt and Harvey aid made sense, with one devastating storm and another looming.

In his first remarks since Trump cut the deal, Ryan said Thursday that president didn't want to have "some partisan fight in the middle of the response."

The Wisconsin lawmaker did not criticize the three-month spending and debt deal that would rush billions in disaster relief to the victims — though he says he believes a longer-term debt deal would have been better for credit markets.

President Donald Trump sided with Democratic leaders over Republicans who wanted a longer extension on raising America's borrowing authority.

Asked about Trump's deal with the Democrats, Ryan said, "Yeah, I sort of noticed that."

Ryan spoke at a New York Times interview at the Newseum.

___

7:15 a.m.

A House Republican says he has no problem with President Donald Trump making a deal with Democratic leaders of Congress to arrange a short-term extension of the debt limit.

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole calls Trump's move in an Oval Office meeting Wednesday "in some sense a declaration of independence by the president."

"I was sort of thrilled," Cole told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Thursday. He says the arrangement Trump worked out with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is "good for the country. ... We don't need to run out of money in a week or 10 days in the middle of a natural disaster."

Cole tells MSNBC: "There's all kinds of implications of what he did yesterday, but count me as saying I believe there's more of an upside than a downside."

___

5:50 a.m.

The Senate is nearly doubling the initial Harvey aid package.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's midnight move added $7.4 billion in community development block grant funds to a House-passed $7.9 billion measure providing an emergency replenishment for disaster aid coffers.

The additional Senate money is to jump-start rebuilding efforts. The block grant money is more flexible and can cover costs the Federal Emergency Management Agency can't. A vote could come as early as Thursday.

The House passed the Harvey aid package on Wednesday by an overwhelming vote. President Donald Trump agreed to link it to an increase through Dec. 8 in the government's so-called debt limit, as well as a stopgap government-wide funding bill.

___

3:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump briskly overruled congressional Republicans and his own treasury secretary to cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government operating and raise America's debt limit. The immediate goal was ensuring money for hurricane relief, but in the process the president brazenly rolled his own party's leaders.

In deal-making mode, Trump sided Wednesday with the Democratic leaders — "Chuck and Nancy," as he amiably referred later to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — as they pushed for the three-month deal. The deal had the effect of brushing aside the urgings of GOP leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for a much longer extension to the debt limit. Republicans want that longer allowance to avoid having to take another vote on the politically toxic issue before the 2018 congressional elections.

The White House session painted a vivid portrait of discord at the highest ranks of the Republican Party.

Powered by Frankly