Georgia, South Carolina |Courts Close for Storm

     (CN) – Hurricane Hermine was downgraded to a tropical storm early Friday, but courts and county offices along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts closed for the day due to the continued threat of dangerous flooding and high winds and the potential for tornados.
     In      Georgia, Gov. Nathan deal issued a state of emergency in 56 counties. The state’s Administrative Office of Courts said Friday that a number of south Georgia courts will not open today.
     These include courts in Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Camden, Candler, Chatham, Cook, Crisp, Jeff Davis, McIntosh, Toombs, Wayne, and Wilcox counties.
     But the office said Friday the list of court closures is by no means inclusive, and that it will be updated here as other closures are announced.
          In South Carolina, nearly the entire state was under a high wind or flash flood warning or both Friday morning, and a tornado watch had been issued for several Midlands counties.
     On Thursday, the South Carolina Supreme Court directed that all courtroom proceedings in state, county, and municipal courts follow the directives of county or municipal government officials.
     All county and municipal employees working within the court system were told to follow the decisions made by the respective county or municipal government officials in regards to office delays or closings on Friday.
     As of Friday morning, courts and county government officers were closed in Charleston, Colleton, Berkeley, Beaufort, Barnwell, Jasper, and Allendale counties.
     Courts and county offices in Fairfield County are scheduled to close at noon, and will close in Williamsburg County at 1 p.m.
     This list is also expected to be updated throughout the day as conditions worsen.
     The governor of North Carolina has also declared a state of emergency.
     Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area at about 1:30 a.m. Friday, and was the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade.
     The Category 1 storm brought soaking rain, high winds and power outages to the region before it weakened and pushed on into Georgia.
     Projected storm surges of up to 12 feet menaced a wide swath of the coast and an expected drenching of up to 10 inches of rain carried the danger of flooding along the storm’s path over land, including the state capital Tallahassee, which hadn’t been hit by a hurricane since 1985.
     The National Hurricane Center said the storm now has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, and is moving to the north-northeast at about 14 miles per hour. The eye of the storm is expected to cross directly over Charleston, S.C. during the mid-to-late afternoon on Friday.
     After pushing through Georgia and South Carolina, Hermine is expected to continue to move up the East Coast with the potential for drenching rain and deadly flooding.
     In Florida, more than 150,000 residents are reported to be without electricity. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared an emergency in 51 counties. He said 6,000 National Guardsmen were poised to mobilize for the storm’s aftermath.

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