CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Leaders from Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties held a joint press conference Wednesday as the Lowcountry braces for the impacts of Hurricane Ian.

Ian is approaching landfall on Florida’s western coast Tuesday afternoon as a strong Category 4 storm with winds near 155 miles per hour — just shy of a Category 5.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie, were joined by officials from Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties to discuss preparations and potential impacts of the storm.

Ian could be felt in the Lowcountry as soon as Wednesday night, with the worst effects expected Thursday and Friday. Officials anticipate Category 1 hurricane-level windspeeds and four to five feet of storm surge on top of abnormally high tides. Flooding is expected to be significant throughout the area.

Tornado threats, high surf, beach erosion, and high winds are also likely.

Officials urged residents to consider relocating if they live in low-lying areas, areas that frequently flood, or barrier islands. All other residents are asked to stay home and ride the storm out.

Charleston County will be moving to OPCON 2 and closing offices and libraries Thursday and Friday. A citizen’s information line will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. beginning Thursday. That number is (843) 746-3900. For information in Spanish, residents can call (843) 746-3909.

Charleston County will be opening two shelters: Dunston Elementary School (1825 Remount Road) at 12:00 p.m. and a pet-friendly shelter at 3841 Leeds Avenue opens at 8:00 a.m.

People are asked to bring pillows, blankets, snacks, medicines, and anything else they may need to stay comfortable. Busses will provide transportation to the shelters.

Parking garages will be open in the City of Charleston for those who want to move their cars to higher ground.

Berkeley County offices will close Thursday and Friday as well. A citizen’s call line will be open beginning Thursday at (843) 719-4800.

Dorchester County offices will close Friday. Residents are asked not to flood 911 with calls about downed trees or obstructions in roadways and instead call the nonemergency dispatch line at (843) 873-5111.

All counties have sandbags available at multiple locations, with some counties taking sandbags out to those who are unable to get them.

Leaders said that first responders will be on alert, but asked residents not to “challenge the storm” and put the first responders in a dangerous situation. High-water vehicles are available at some agencies in the area if they are needed.

However, Mayor Haynie said that those who are worried about leaving their homes should not be concerned.

Mayor Tecklenburg summed up the feeling of the leaders, saying “I don’t like what I see with Hurricane Ian… Friday is not going to be a pretty day in the Lowcountry” and urging residents to stay safe.

TRACKING IAN | See the latest news and important information | Click here