COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – Gov. Nikki Haley ordered a noon evacuation for Zone A in Horry and Georgetown counties due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew, and encouraged those in Zone A to begin evacuating immediately.
Zone "A" includes all areas east of U.S. Business 17 (Kings Hwy), up to the intersection with U.S. 17 (Kings Hwy) and all areas east of US 17 (Kings Hwy) to the Northern county line. In addition, evacuations include all low-lying areas, mobile homes, and campground sites, according to a North Myrtle Beach official.
These areas can expect heavy rainfall of up to eight to 14 inches with flash flooding and impassable roads. Storm surge will affect inland areas as well. Officials ask residents to take the storm seriously.
SC officials are coordinating with Florida and Georgia officials on evacuation plans. Lane reversals on I-26 ran well, with an average travel time from Charleston to Columbia of one hour and 21 minutes at 71 miles per hour.
At this time, there are no planned lane reversals on Highway 501 or elsewhere in Horry County, but crews are positioned to initiate lane reversals should it be deemed necessary, Haley said.
As of 6 a.m., 175,000 people had evacuated, and Haley said that number is not high enough with gas stations, banks and pharmacies about to close. Circle K gas stations will close at noon Thursday.
National Guard units are stationed along 700 control points. 38 shelters, including one special needs shelter, were open as of 11 p.m. Wednesday night. An additional 50 shelters are available if necessary. 667 people so far are living in shelters.
Most hotels throughout the region are booked, not including the coast, the best place to look for rooms is Charlotte. Officials have access to Department of Defense equipment, have rescue assets in place and more will be available on 24-hour notice. The Department of Natural Resources is handling a substantial number of water rescues.
Dam owners are asked to take precautions including clearing vegetation.
All state prisons are on lockdown.
Gov. Haley and state officials held the news conference from the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia at 9:30 a.m.