According to the representative from the National Weather Service, Hurricane Matthew has weakened to a category two storm. Wind speeds are about 110 miles per hour, which is good news for the South Carolina coast. However, the storm has started to turn north and pass just along or potentially on the South Carolina coast, including tomorrow during the day, when it will likely be a category one storm.
Not much has changed from the early track this morning, but it is still concerning as the storm passes close to the S.C. coast.
Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings remain in affect for the whole South Carolina coast. A tornado watch through midnight is in affect for the southeastern part of the state, as well as flash flood watches from Rock Hill to Aiken and the eastern parts of the state, where the heaviest rainfall is likely to occur.
Some dams in the Midlands area that were affected during the catastrophic flood of last October are being watched as rainfall occurs over the next few days.
The storm surge remains the most troubling aspect of Hurricane Matthew. Though the storm has weakened, the storm surge is not necessarily related to wind speeds. The storm surge potential is much greater than what one may expect from a category one storm.
There have already been reports of water crossing causeways in Beaufort County and reaching homes on Edisto Island. Inundation in vulnerable areas could reach six to nine feet.
Rainfall and tropical storm wind gusts have already been reported.
All eastbound lanes are now open again on I-26.
As of this press conference, 355,000 residents had evacuated.
An estimated nineteen Dafauskie Island residents did leave the barrier island. Residents that chose to stay were asked to seek higher ground.
High-level bridges are being monitored. When they appear unsafe, state officials will inform the public.
Transit providers in affected areas have shut down operations for now.
Haley and her team including law enforcement and the National Guard are currently making post-storm preparations. 2,500 guardsmen are now activated. All aircraft is grounded.
The Edisto, the Black and the Waccamaw rivers are currently being monitored. Officials will provide updates when those rivers reach dangerous levels.
Sixty-nine shelters are now open. 4,249 residents are currently in the shelters, but there is still plenty of accessibility to shelters.
One hundred and seventy-four medical facilities are in the process of evacuation or have been evacuated.
Fripp Island’s water supply has been turned off. They are under a water advisory. There is the possibility that more water advisories will occur.
Many counties have put curfews in place, and the Governor advised that residents follow those curfews and stay off of the roads.
“Really the best thing now is to just hunker down.” Governor Haley said. “Stay in a safe place. Don’t move. Don’t try and move around. Make sure you your cell phones charged.”
Governor Haley also advised residents in low-lying areas or coastal plains to be on the look out for flooding, and should flooding occur get to the highest floor of your house. If you live in a one-story house, seek higher ground.
Governor Haley also reminded residents that just because rains stop does not mean that they can reenter evacuated areas. Rescue crews and recovery crews need to ensure everyone is safe to enter before allowing residents to return, but when evacuated areas are safe, she and her team will try to get residents back as quickly as possible
A National Guard chaplain closed the press conference, as Haley asked residents to pray for each other and pray for South Carolina and other states affected by the flood.
For more information about shelter and evacuation information, go to SCEMD.org. Go to SCDOT.org or call 1-855-GO-SCDOT to find alternative routes while the interstate remains reversed. Also on the SCDOT website, view real-time cameras and see travel times.
Call the Team South Carolina tip line at 1-866-246-0133 if you do not have access to the Internet and need assistance.