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Schools, county offices close Thursday ahead of storm

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By Mark Manicone

The Lancaster County School District and Lancaster County offices will be closed Thursday ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Michael.
“Because of the wind factor… it’s just not safe for our buses to be on the road. We just want to make sure our students are safe,” said school district Superintendent Jonathan Phipps on Wednesday.
Phipps said the district will monitor conditions throughout the day Thursday before making a decision on Friday classes. The fast-moving storm is expected to be out of South Carolina before dawn Friday.
“We want to make sure that the power is on and…everything is safe and good for students to come back,” he said.
All schools, administrative offices and non-emergency county services will be closed Thursday.
All outdoor recreational activities and afterschool activities have been cancelled for Wednesday night, though all indoor practices will still be held. All of those programs are canceled for Thursday, and will be rescheduled.
Local emergency officials held a press briefing at 3 p.m. Wedensday at the county’s emergency operations center to provide the most up-to-date information possible on Michael’s projected path during the next 36 hours.
“This storm has the opportunity to bring more water in terms of rain, that will fall quicker. We won’t quite get the amounts that we did with Florence, but that was over a 4-day period,” said Lancaster County Emergency Management Director Darren Player.

The towns of Heath Springs and Kershaw will also be closed Thursday.  
The city of Lancaster, however, will remain open, said Mayor Alston DeVenny, though he urged residents to stay inside during the worst of the storm.
“The thing I would encourage people to do is if you don’t have to travel, don’t,” DeVenny said. “Be very aware of the flooding situation in Lancaster. This flood will be different than the last flood we just had. Don’t take anything for granted with regard to flooding.”
S.C. Governor Henry McMaster discussed the storm during a 4 p.m. Wednesday press conference held in Aiken.
McMaster told residents to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. McMaster anticipates that Michael won’t be as bad as Florence, though state emergency officials will monitor the storm system around the clock. 
“This storm at this point in S.C., the expectations have not reached the size and dimensions of what we had recently with [Hurricane] Florence,” McMaster said. “Stay alert and stay informed with local authorities and we’ll be OK.”
The S.C. Department of Transportation reported Wednesday afternoon that 58 roads across the state still remain closed from Hurricane Florence’s impact nearly three weeks ago.
Editor’s note – This is a continuing story. The Lancaster News will provide updates as more information is available.

Follow reporter Mark Manicone on Twitter @mark_manicone or contact him at (803) 283-1152.