Hurricane Florence: Local authorities, SPJ SC chapter president support residents & journalists as hurricane draws closer to the coast

Hurricane loto

WMBF reporting on Florence with governor
WMBF-TV televises Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcements about Hurricane Florence as he prepares his residents for a possible Category 4 or 5 storm. WMBF-TV serves the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions of South Carolina including Myrtle Beach and Florence, South Carolina. (WMBF photo) 

By: Marquis Holmes, SPJ Region 3 fall intern; senior at Kennesaw State University; editor-in-chief of the KSU Sentinel student newspaper and SPJ Kennesaw State University chapter president

SOUTH CAROLINA — In light of the approaching Hurricane Florence, Gov. Henry McMaster, alongside local officials issued an executive order Saturday, calling for the mandatory evacuation of residents on or near coastal South Carolina to ensure public safety and placing South Carolina in a state of emergency.

WMPE logo“This storm is too powerful and its path is too uncertain to take any chances,” McMaster said during a news conference Saturday televised by the Myrtle Beach/Florence TV station WPDE. “We are mobilizing the state’s resources to make sure we are prepared, and the people of South Carolina must not hesitate to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane impacting our coast.”

Understanding hurricanes is one aspect that columnist David Baxley knows more about than regular journalists covering major hurricanes. He is also a meteorologist. He is familiar with the technical weather-related specs of hurricanes and will be sharing his experience as a meteorologist to help cover what South Carolina journalists will be experiencing as the hurricane approaches and hits landfall.

David Baxley causal
David Baxley

Although Baxley has left the mainstream media and now works as a broadcast journalism professor at Francis Marion University, he says his deep concern is about the South Carolina journalists who will be staying to cover the hurricane. Baxley’s concern might be warranted because he is also the president of the new SPJ South Carolina chapter.

Along with tens of thousands trying to relocated west of the Atlantic coast, Baxley prepares to evacuate his South Carolina residence this morning. He urges journalists preparing to report on the approaching hurricane to “trust your guts” and to “trust your instincts.”

“As we face what could be an unprecedented storm later this week, the Society of Professional Journalists-South Carolina reminds journalists covering Hurricane Florence safety should always be your number one priority.” – David Baxley. 

“As we face what could be an unprecedented storm later this week, the Society of Professional Journalists-South Carolina reminds journalists covering Hurricane Florence safety should always be your number one priority.” said Baxley. 

In addition to journalists working out in the storm, active-specific units of the South Carolina National Guard will also be assisting civil authorities. 

Major with SC Guard
Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston

“We have Guard members preparing throughout the state, ready to meet the requests from our partnered agencies and emergency managers,” stated U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston. “We are well-positioned with people, and as needs increase, we will activate additional Soldiers and Airmen.” 

Newsrooms are informing South Carolina coastal residents unfamiliar with their zones should visit the SCEMD’s “Know Your Zone” website to determine their zones based on their address. News casts and newspapers, both in print and online are reporting where evacuation shelter locations are available including on and in the South Carolina Emergency Manager mobile app.

SC Management logoGov. McMaster also issued a separate executive order to close schools and state government offices for non-essential personnel in countries surrounding the coast on Tuesday. In the executive order, the governor requires all zones of the Northern, Central and Southern coast to evacuate their homes no later than 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The executive order will allow for South Carolina agencies to coordinate resources in case the storm hits.

According to a public tropical cyclone advisory from the National Weather Service, National weather service logoFlorence is currently a Category 4 hurricane, and is growing in size and strength. Hurricane Florence will be moving over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean and between Bermuda and the Bahamas and is expected to reach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday. 

“We know the days ahead will be long and the assignments will be grueling. Know that your community is depending on you to deliver timely and accurate information as they make life-or-death decisions with regard to Florence,” said Baxley.

Please link to SPJ South Carolina Facebook and Twitter to read ongoing posts before the during and after the storm. SPJ Region 3 will also be re-posting the chapter’s links and covering the hurricane through

Safe reporting South Carolina journalists! SPJ national, regional and state staff and members support your efforts and dedication to your job as you face this natural disaster descending upon your hometowns. – Sharon Dunten, editor, and SPJ Assistant Regional Director – Region 3.

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