“This is really a serious storm.” Governor Nikki Haley again spoke with reporters at an afternoon press conference at South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division with updated information about Hurricane Matthew.
“When we’re looking at storm surges that surpass Hugo, you know it’s a problem.” Governor Haley said. She thanked South Carolinians for heeding evacuations, with many exiting early, but emphasized again how imperative it is to take evacuation instructions seriously.
A representative from the National Weather Service stated that hurricane warnings have been extended up the South Carolina coast, as have storm surge warnings. There is now a tropical storm warning for the northern part of the South Carolina coast and a tropical storm surge watch.
Right now, Matthew is a Category 4 storm approaching the Florida coastline. It should approach South Carolina as a Category 2 storm late Friday night into Saturday morning, with winds up to 110 miles per hour. The storm track has been shifted closer to the coast, which will produce stronger winds, storm surges and rainfall.
The representative from the National Weather Service said the greatest area of concern is the storm surge. There is the potential for disastrous and life-threatening storm surge inundation for the southern coast of South Carolina. The representative said that if you live in or around Charleston, the storm surges will likely be stronger than Hurricane Hugo.
Due to the increased storm surge and it’s timing, the state has ordered evacuation of additional areas Jasper and Colleton counties, which are a bit further inland and considered Evacuation Zone B.
High tides, battering waves and storm inundation will likely cause significant damage to coastal structures. Some particularly vulnerable areas include: Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island, Folly Beach, Wild Dunes and Edisto Beach. Roads to barrier islands will likely become impassible due to the surge. If you are in those areas and don’t evacuate now, you may become stranded.
Significant flooding is possible across much of the Charleston peninsula due to storm surge and heavy rainfall. The National Weather Service expects 8-14 inches of rainfall across the state, with flash flood watches in effect for much of the coastal part of the state.
Extensive tree damage with trees down on roofs and roadways are possible, and long, widespread power outages could occur.
President Obama called today and offered his prayers for the state and a direct line for emergency needs.
FEMA is on the ground in South Carolina, and the state was approved for an emergency declaration for federal assistance, which means anything prior to the storm that is needed will be provided. This could include generators, cots for shelters, food and even mobile medical assistance.
Governor Haley offered her special thanks to law enforcement, SCDOT crews, national guardsman and others who have worked to prepare and keep South Carolinians safe
“If you respect what they’re doing, please evacuate.” Haley said.
Lane reversal on I-26 will likely end tomorrow so men, women and equipment on the ground can be moved and repositioned. The teams on the ground are transitioning from the evacuation phase security and preparation for recovery efforts. There are 2,000 active National Guardsman on the ground with another 3,000 alerted to be on standby.
Hi-traffic bridges such as the Ravenel Bridge and Interstate 526 in coastal areas will likely begin closing, as winds will be picking up earlier than originally anticpated.
As of 3 p.m. today S.C. has had 280,000 people evacuate. A number that is up from 175,000 this morning. This number will likely increase as Jasper and Colleton counties evacuate.
There are currently 64 shelters open, with 1,305 residents in shelters. A new pet friendly shelter is available in Spartanburg, and 3 special needs shelter facilities are open, with 5 on standby.
There are three hotels in Anderson with vacancies, and hotels in Charlotte. Some hosts on Air BnB are offering their homes free of cost to evacuees.
The Department of Corrections is currently accommodating increased sandbag requests.
As of 2 o’clock, 88 facilities operated by DHEC have been evacuated. Beaufort Memorial Hospital is currently evacuating.
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.