The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor in South Carolina have put their campaigns on hold ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is forecasted to impact the coast of the Carolinas later this week.
In addition, Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Smith has been called up for National Guard duty ahead of the storm.
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Campaign spokesman Brad Warthen told CNN in a phone interview that Smith received the call to duty on Monday and had reported by Tuesday morning. Warthen could not confirm where Smith was currently serving.
Smith, a state legislator, is also a major in the South Carolina National Guard, which he joined in 1998. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Smith resigned his Judge Advocate General officer's commission in the South Carolina National Guard and enlisted in the infantry, wanting to go out and fight. At age 37, he entered basic training in the Army. In February 2007, Smith deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry officer and served a 12-month tour of duty.
Tropical-storm-force winds are due to reach the coasts of North and South Carolina late Wednesday night, and hurricane-force winds may be felt around noon Thursday, ahead of a landfall likely Thursday night, CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers said. Powerful storm surges and winds will pose deadly threats, as will long periods of heavy rain.
On the other side of the aisle, Smith's opponent, current Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, quickly assumed his role leading the state's response to Hurricane Florence from the Emergency Operations Center. McMaster also announced on Monday afternoon that he was suspending his campaign until future notice.
"Due to the serious nature of Hurricane Florence, the campaign is temporarily suspending all public events. The governor is focused on preparing the state for the possible impact of this hurricane, and we encourage all South Carolinians to take the appropriate steps to stay safe," said campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg in a release.
McMaster also ordered a mandatory evacuation that will go into effect on Tuesday at noon in eight counties along the state's 187-mile coastline. All roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, Henry McMaster said.
"This is a real hurricane we have coming," McMaster said Monday. "We don't want to risk one South Carolina life."