As coastal South Carolina prepares for the advance of Hurricane Florence, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island is planning to evacuate the coastal military installation ahead of the storm.
The thousands of recruits and military staff at the Marines training base will depart on Tuesday for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia. Base commanders took a similar step as Hurricane Matthew approached the Beaufort County site in 2016.
Commanding officer Brig. Gen. James Glynn had previously discouraged families from making the trip for graduation ceremonies even before the evacuation order came.
“”Your safety is just as important to us as the safety of the recruits and the new Marines,” Glynn said in a short video message. “We also don’t want to put any strain on emergency services provided by Beaufort County should local officials order an evacuation.”
Charlie Company had been scheduled to graduate this week. The company will instead graduate in Albany before getting leave.
“We have decided that all family day activities are canceled for this week. Additionally, the possibility exists that we may graduate Charlie Company early and close the depot to visitors,” Glynn said. “As a matter of safety, we have to weigh the joy and pride of attending a graduation along with the risk of traveling to this area and our need to prepare the base for destructive weather.”
Parris Island falls inside the coastal zone evacuations ordered by Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday. The flat barrier island is susceptible to potential flooding or storm surges should a hurricane come ashore. While the most recent National Weather Service forecast projects Florence is likely headed for a North Carolina landfall, many models show it could still potentially make a turn and head further south.
Brig. Gen. Glynn said the Charlie Company graduation will be recorded for families to view online.
Beaufort County officials are monitoring National Hurricane Center updates. On Saturday, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a State of Emergency ahead of the storm.
As of Monday afternoon, the storm is expected to come ashore somewhere north of Charleston Thursday night into Friday. The exact track of the storm has not yet been determined.