The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's request for a federal declaration of emergency.
The request, made Wednesday morning, was a preemptive measure to support state and county operations during the winter storm, Haley's office said.
"Direct Federal Assistance is needed to meet critical emergency protection requirements that are beyond the capability of the state and affected local governments before arrival of the state's most deleterious effect," wrote Haley in a letter to President Obama. "The State of South Carolina continues to recover from the adverse effects of the severe storms which severely impacted the State in January 2014."
"To date, the State expended over $2 million in response to that event," continued Haley. "That January 2014 event impacted the majority of the counties in the State, just as the current event is impacting."
The declaration, which went into effect Wednesday, provides flexibility to the state to request commodities and personnel augmentation, such as generators, bottled water, meals ready to eat, and support teams.
The federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost and the state would be responsible for the remaining 25 percent.
Haley updated the media on the state's response to the storm just before noon Wednesday.
"We are now in the brunt of the storm," she said at a news conference. "We are starting to see what we've been waiting on. It's going to be worse than the ice storm we had in 2004. The wind is what's causing us a lot of problems."
"Please hunker down," she said. "Stay home. This is not the time to get out. This has turned into a major ice event. The wind has made it worse, but South Carolina is ready."
Haley said 1500 Department of Transportation employees have been distributing 4400 tons of salt. She said the state should have enough salt to last through Thursday, when the storm is expected to subside.
According to the governor, 254 highway patrol officers are working 12-hour shifts. One officer was involved in a crash on Interstate 95.
"Our agencies are working well with each other," said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr. with the SC National Guard. "We have a significant capacity in reserve. It will get worse as the day goes on."
"The good thing is, South Carolinians listen," Haley said. "We are not seeing a lot of people on the roads, which is great. This is all about safety. This is about keeping people safe and all of our first responders safe."
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