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UPDATE: States of emergency

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

UPDATE: 5 p.m. Thursday

     States of emergency have been declared by county governments in Columbus and Horry as a potentially severe winter ice storm inches its way through the Carolinas to the cost.

     A curfew will be in place in Columbus County from 8 p.m. until 6 p.m. for two nights, beginning Friday and ending Sunday, an order signed by County Commissioners Chair Ricky Bullard said.

     That curfew exempts those travelling for healthcare emergencies, healthcare workers, emergency first responders, travel to and from work, or assistance with the emergency response to the storm.

     Trash pick-up in Columbus County, outside of the municipalities, is also cancelled for Friday and Saturday.

     Columbus County leaders are expected to open their Emergency Operations Center, partially, at 6 a.m. Friday, Deputy Emergency Services Director David Ransom said.

     In Horry County the Emergency Operations Center “will activate in a remove, virtual state beginning at 7 a.m.” Friday, a county news release said.

     Horry also declared a state of emergency, it’s order approved by County Council did not call for a curfew, but sets the stage for possible federal reimbursement for debris removal and other costs associated with the storm.

     County offices and museums will be closed Friday and Saturday in Horry,

Impacts

     Impacts of the storm are expected to begin near sunrise Friday, with beginning in the early evening Thursday with temperatures in the low 50s, falling overnight and approaching or reaching the freezing mark just before sunrise, and continuing to fall during the day.

     A broad region stretching from Burgaw and Wilmington to well south of Florence and west of Hartsville and Bennettsville can expect to see freezing rain between 6 and 10 a.m. Friday, a 5 p.m. briefing from the National Weather Service said.

     Impacts from the ice will increase into Friday night, beginning with bridges, overpasses and elevated roadways, the NWS reported.

     Ice accumulations from a quarter to a half inch are expected in generally the same region, including the Tabor-Loris Community, enough to weigh tree limbs and power lines to the point of breaking, with a significant potential for power outages, public safety officials said.

     Wind gusts of more than 20 miles per hour will further threaten power lines.

First Thursday post

     Schools in Horry County are going virtual, in Columbus County to “asynchronous virtual instruction” on Friday as a winter ice storm presents a growing threat the Tabor-Loris Community into this weekend.

     Horry County Schools will operate “with a distance learning day for all students,” the district announced late Wednesday.

     “All HCS employees will work remotely with the exception of school-based nutrition services staff, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, and building services staff,” the announcement said. “These employees will not report to work but will be allowed to make up the day based upon schedules provided by their supervisors.

     “Parents and staff members will receive email communications with more detailed information regarding Friday’s operational plans.”

     Safety is the chief concern, school officials said.

     “We want our staff and students to be safe which requires all to remain off the roads,” a Columbus County Schools news release said.

     “Students will be given assignments on Thursday, and teachers will be available via email on Friday by going to the CCS website and selecting ‘Contact Us’’ and ‘Contact a Staff Member,’” the news release said. “Students should complete assignments as early as possible because of the potential for power outages.”

     Parks and Recreation basketball using school gyms in Tabor City, Williams Township, Chadbourn and Nakina are also canceled Saturday, the school district said.

Other closings

  • Courts in Columbus County will be closed Friday, Clerk of Court Jess Hill said.
  • Southeastern Community College will be closed Friday and Saturday, including all on-campus activities, labs and more.
  • Advanced Primary Care in Tabor City and other ancillary operations of Columbus Regional Healthcare will be closed Friday. That includes Advanced Orthopedics in Whiteville, Rehabilitation Services and Donayre Care Center. Staffing will be reduced Friday at Imaging Services, Outpatient Surgical Services, and the Wound Healing Center. COVID-19 testing at the CRHS flagship hospital has been cancelled for Friday, and will resume Monday.

Storm warning

     An ice storm warning is in effect for Columbus and Horry counties, Brunswick, Bladen, New Hanover and Pender, a National Weather Service briefing said Thursday.

     “Wintery precipitation will begin at freezing rain Friday morning through the afternoon, spreading south through the day, before ending into Saturday morning as sleet and/or snow.”

     Public safety officials throughout Horry and Columbus are urging people to stay home, with down trees, power outages and dangerous travel conditions expected.

     “Arctic air behind the front could lead to prolonged impacts, especially for those without power,” the NWS briefing said.

     Look for updates here as events warrant, and coverage of the winter storm event in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.