COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina officials are urging residents to prepare for Hurricane Irma, which the National Hurricane Center says could strike the state early next week.

Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday declared a state of emergency because of the storm already responsible for at least 10 deaths in the Caribbean.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. said Wednesday it’s releasing water from Lake Murray northwest of Columbia to reduce the possibility of flooding when Irma’s rains arrive.

The utility warned residents and those who use the lake and Saluda River for recreation of fluctuating water levels.

The city of Charleston said a limited number of free sandbags would be available Thursday for residents hoping to keep flood waters out of their homes and businesses. Residents are limited to 10 bags each.