Governor Nikki Haley held a press conference Wednesday morning to update the state on the status of Hurricane Matthew.
Nikki Haley informed reporters at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (EMD) that the National Weather Service advised her this morning how the storm had changed overnight. The storm has slowed down and “moved somewhat”, but could move back before arriving to South Carolina. Haley said her team will “move as the storm moves”.
The hurricane is expected to be a category two or three, and the South Carolina coast is still within the area expected to receive storm damage.
Haley stated she felt “very comfortable” with the choice to stagger evacuations. Charleston and Beaufort counties will be evacuated today at 3 p.m., where lanes on I-26 will be reversed continually until the storm passes.
Around a quarter of a million residents are currently being evacuated.
Because the storm has slowed down, Horry and Georgetown counties will be under mandatory evacuation Thursday morning.
The National Guard has been mobilized, with 700 traffic control points along the interstate. There will also be “comfort stations” with bathrooms as well as water.
There are 315 busses that are coming from Greenville to North Charleston at noon today to pick up Charleston residents and take them to Greenville.
Haley encouraged everyone in mandatory evacuation zones to heed those warnings and leave as soon as possible. Choosing to stay, the governor said, puts law enforcement, National Guardsmen and emergency staff members’ lives in danger. Safely moving residents out of evacuation zones and back are the Governor’s Office’s main concerns.
Hotels in the Midlands are mostly booked. The Governor advised going online to find what is available in the Upstate area.
Shelters are ready and ready to be staffed. When North Charleston busses arrive in Greenville, three shelters will be waiting for them. One hundred and ten shelters are available for up to 66,000 residents. Shelters are on standby to open as needed.
Haley said that some smaller gas stations are experiencing shortages, but the larger stations are supplied. Her team is working with the Attorney General to prevent price gouging. Representatives will be on the roads checking prices, but should you see price gouging, contact the S.C. EMD.
The medical evacuation applies to the facilities that DHEC operates. This includes residential treatment facilities, acute care centers, drug and substance abuse hospitals, and adult daycare centers. A DHEC representative said there has been one transportation request that was successfully fulfilled.
Federal assets have been requested but are not currently being used, a representative of the National Guard said. Liaison officers are ready at the S.C. Emergency Management Division should those assets, including things like helicopters, become necessary.
Haley thanked South Carolinians for being proactive; as many began to evacuate last night.
“It’s a good thing when we all listen to each other and take care of each other, and I think we saw that last night,” the governor stated.
Haley stated the flood and the hurricane are different situations, in that the state can prepare and get residents out before danger occurs.
Haley will hold another press conference Wednesday afternoon, with updates on traffic and how she and her office will be moving forward.