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360,000 have evacuated South Carolina coast so far due to hurricane

The coastline of South Carolina could experience hurricane force winds for much of the next day.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is once again pleading for anyone who hasn't evacuated the coast to leave now, as Hurricane Dorian is expected to bring possibly hurricane force winds to the area Thursday.

McMaster held a briefing along other state emergency leaders Wednesday afternoon at the state's emergency management center.

"You still have time to get out, but the time to get out is running out," he said. 

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As of  8 a.m. Wednesday,  360,000 people have evacuated the state so far, or about 43 percent of the people who were put under a mandatory evacuation order which was issued Sunday night. About 43 percent of the evacuees were from Charleston area, 34 percent from Myrtle Beach, and 23 percent from Hilton Head. 

Dorian is currently forecast to affect the South Carolina all day Thursday. As such, hurricane warnings are in effect for the coast. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Sumter, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee, Sumter, and Bamberg Counties in the Midlands. Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect along the coast. 

RELATED: Hurricane Dorian latest forecast

RELATED: Timeline: What to expect in the Midlands with Dorian

Transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 between Charleston and Columbia Monday to make it easier for people to leave the area. But those reversals have now ended. 

RELATED: Mandatory evacuations ordered for entire South Carolina coastline, lane reversals for I-26

RELATED: I-26 lane reversals begin in South Carolina

McMaster said the people who choose to stay have to be careful, and understand that if they have trouble, emergency responders may not be able to come to them. That's because when the sustained winds get too high, crews can't be out on the street. 

The state has opened shelters for evacuees. For a full list, go to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division's emergency shelter page.

RELATED: From Midlands to coast, classes cancelled for Hurricane Dorian

McMaster also ordered coastal schools and government offices closed Tuesday, but said he would wait and see how many schools might be needed for shelters before talking to districts about cancelling classes in inland areas later this week.

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