COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged South Carolinians to remain inside and “be smart” as National Weather Service meteorologist John Quagliariello called Hurricane Ian landfall “imminent.”

In a briefing Friday just before 1 p.m., McMaster and a number of state officials laid out what to expect as Hurricane Ian heads toward South Carolina. 

“This is not as bad as it could have been,” McMaster said at the briefing, adding, “I would ask people: Don’t quit yet. It’s still coming. We are not out of the woods.”

Quagliariello said the National Weather Service anticipated the worst conditions would occur in the next two hours, and that they would ease heading into the night.

No deaths had yet been reported in the state, as of the press conference. McMaster pressed that the conditions could be life-threatening, particularly if people become “careless.” 

Edward Simmer, the director for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said being safe meant staying indoors, away from windows and out of floodwater. 

“We’ve had no one die. We want to keep that going,” Simmer said. 

The areas most likely to be affected included McClellanville, Georgetown, DeBordieu Colony, Pawleys Island, Garden City, Litchfield and Cherry Grove, according to Quagliariello. 

“The storm surge will occur along the oceanfront, back bays and tidal creeks. Coastal roadways could become impassable,” Quagliariello said. 

He also said the strongest winds would come through the Tri-County Area, and a localized threat of tornadoes were increasing in the northeast.

An upswing in service calls began Thursday night and increased Friday morning, state Department of Public Safety Director Wood Robert said, as winds downed trees and power lines. State officials reminded South Carolinians to limit non-emergency calls and that, in some cases, service could be delayed.

McMaster also said he spoke on Friday morning with President Joe Biden, who promised to assist with whatever the state may need. That included approval of a federal emergency declaration on Thursday.