As Hurricane Dorian approaches the Southeast Coast, the Aiken community is providing space for evacuees fleeing the storm.
Some medical patients being evacuated from the coast have come to Aiken. Westminster Memory Care of Aiken has taken in 45 patients from their sister facility in North Myrtle Beach.
Another local site that is open to receive evacuees is the campground at the Western Carolina State Fairgrounds.
"We have done this the past couple of years when hurricanes happen and affect the state," said Amanda Dennis of the Western Carolina State Fair Foundation. "...Our board felt this is a way to give back to the people and try to help them out."
Dennis said there were about 70 spaces available for campers free of charge at the fairground, which is located on Columbia Highway North.
The SPCA Albrecht Center for animal welfare has taken in several animals from shelters in Florida and Charleston County.
The Aiken Training Track opened its stalls to 30 horses Tuesday from evacuees.
Track President Alice Knowles said the stalls are free for owners to use as long as owners bring their own feed and equipment.
"We're certainly glad we can help," Knowles said.
Secretary Heather Steinback said the Aiken Training Track has offered their stalls to hurricane evacuee's horses in years past but this is the largest turnout the track has seen.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for several coastal counties in South Carolina, but no evacuation shelter has been opened yet in Aiken County.
Aiken County Director of Emergency Management Paul Matthews said shelters remain closed due to "low compliance" with the evacuation order along the coast.
"It doesn't make sense for us to open one when nobody's going to come," Matthews said. "Especially when there are plenty of shelters closer to the coast they could evacuate to."
Instead, Aiken County Emergency Management will be supporting a shelter at Voorhees College in Bamberg County.
Matthews said there has been low turnout at the Bamberg shelter so far.
Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2 with winds of 110 miles per hour as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, but it still presents a threat to swaths of the Southeast Coast.
Given that the storm is expected to skirt the coast, minimal weather effects are expected in Aiken County – if the National Hurricane Center's current forecast holds true.
When Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas over the weekend, it was a catastrophic Category 5 storm – the strongest classification for hurricanes. It had sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and gusts up to 220 miles per hour, making it one of the strongest recorded hurricanes in history.
Flooding was so severe that the majority of Grand Bahama Island vanished underwater by Labor Day. Five deaths have been reported in the islands so far.
After parking over the Bahamas for over a day and a half, Dorian is once again on the move, crawling slowly up the East Coast. The storm is expected to bring high winds and heavy rainfall to the Florida Coast on Wednesday and reach South Carolina by Thursday, likely as a Category 3 or Category 2 hurricane.
For updates on Hurricane Dorian, visit nhc.noaa.gov.
Staff writer Matthew Enfinger contributed to this article.