Richland County is continuing with preparations to include closing government offices as Hurricane Irma begins to make landfall on the east coast of the United States.
County officials held a news conference this afternoon to provide important information as the potential for severe weather approaches the Midlands. Though Irma’s path has shifted westward, weather experts indicate Richland County will experience severe weather ― including the possibility of tornadoes. As of Friday afternoon, the peak threat is from 2 p.m. Monday to midnight.
For the safety of County employees and residents, Richland County Government Offices will close Monday, Sept. 11, and reopen 10 a.m. Tuesday. More important information follows:
· The Richland County Emergency Services Department (ESD) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) ― the County’s central hub for emergency response activities ― with the Operating Condition, or OPCON, set at 4. OPCON levels range from 5 (day-to-day operations) to 1 (indicating a disaster situation is in effect). The OPCON 4 status indicates the possibility of an emergency situation developing.
· Richland County Public Works crews are clearing debris from catch basins and storm drains throughout the County to help minimize localized flooding.
· To keep haulers off roadways and prevent roll carts placed curbside from possibly causing damage, Solid Waste & Recycling will not make trash or recycling collections on Monday. Collection routes scheduled Monday will be picked up Tuesday, and all regularly scheduled collections for the week will be delayed by one day. The C&D Landfill and Lower Richland Drop-off Center will close Monday and return to regular hours Tuesday. This information could change, based on weather conditions.
· The County has made arrangements with several agencies willing to provide safety. If needed, the following three American Red Cross shelters will open:
o Dent Middle School, 2721 Decker Blvd., Columbia, 12 p.m. Saturday if needed
o Ridge View High School, 4801 Hardscrabble Road, Columbia, 12 p.m. Sunday if needed
o Dutch Fork High School, 1400 Old Tamah Road, Irmo, 12 p.m. Sunday if needed
Nine additional community-based centers in Gadsden, Hopkins and Columbia are on standby to open if needed.
· To report power outages, residents should contact their utility providers:
o SCE&G, 888-333-4465
o Fairfield Electric, 800-499-7862
o Tri-County Electric, 803-353-8746
o Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, 803-749-6444 or 888-813-7000
o Dominion Energy, 866-401-5248
· To report downed limbs or debris affecting public roadways in Richland County, call the non-emergency number 803-576-3439. (The County cannot assist with debris on private property.)
· To help residents remain safe, emergency officials advise the following:
o Help ease flooding by raking leaves and other debris away from storm drains.
o Be sure to include pets in your emergency plans.
o Call your insurance agent in advance and know what your coverage is.
o Don’t allow children to play in rising water.
o Turn around, don’t drown: do not drive on flooded roadways.
For news and updates, follow Richland County on Facebook and Twitter by searching for @RichlandSC or visit rcgov.us. Real-time and historic weather data across the County is available through the Richland County Weather Information Network Data System (RC WINDS) at rcwinds.com.