The Latest: SC governor says Irma to cause localized damage

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – The Latest on preparations in South Carolina for the approach of Hurricane Irma (all times local):

3:10 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says Hurricane Irma could cause damage in some parts of the state on par with last year’s Hurricane Matthew, which caused flooding and led to five deaths.

McMaster and his disaster readiness team on Sunday offered updates about Irma, which hit Florida but wasn’t expected to directly cross South Carolina. The governor says while the storm isn’t going to hit the state with full force, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

He says some hotel rooms are still available for evacuees fleeing from Florida and Georgia, especially in the state’s northeast around Myrtle Beach.

Officials said armed patrol officers are going to the seven barrier islands where evacuations were ordered to watch for looters. McMaster says thieves will be prosecuted to the full extent possible.

1:35 p.m.

South Carolina prepares for heavy rain, strong winds and surging surf from Hurricane Irma while expecting the storm’s center to miss most of the state.

Charleston County officials on Sunday opened a shelter for residents in low-lying areas. City parking decks opened free to provide safe storage for vehicles that could get flooded. Shelters also are open in Colleton, Jasper, Beaufort and Richland counties, with more on standby.

Seven barrier islands and part of an eighth are under evacuation orders, affecting about 42,000 people on Hilton Head Island.

While public services are disrupted, other signs point to fading worries.

The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia is offering under free general admission for children on Monday. A give-away of free sandbags in Georgetown County ended for lack of interest.

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