HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Governor Haley said she's asked more than one million people in the state to leave their homes. But, the traffic doesn't seem to be reflecting that right now, and officials at Horry County's Emergency Operations Center agree.
Horry County Police Lt. Raul Denis is monitoring evacuation routes at the EOC. He admitted traffic seems very light. He said there's the potential for conditions to be bad in Horry County when Hurricane Matthew passes through.
Lt. Denis said the most first responders can do is continue to monitor the storm and urge people to evacuate. Zone A in Horry County, all areas east of U.S. Business 17 to the intersection with U.S. 17, and all areas east of U.S. 17 to the northern county line, are told to evacuate. This includes all low-lying areas, mobile homes and campgrounds. If you live in Zones B or C, you're encouraged to evacuate, but have not received an order to. But, Lt. Denis said not everyone is listening. Right now, law enforcement is being lenient, he said, but that will change when the storm gets closer. Surprisingly, he said people are still going to and from their homes in Zone A. Soon, police will tell them to either stay in their home or go, and not come back until safe.
If winds are up to 50 or 60 miles per hour, or generally too dangerous to be out, first responders will be asked to not answer calls. First responders cannot safely work in such conditions. Lt. Denis said that is a risk with ignoring an evacuation order.
Like Horry County law enforcement, Governor Haley said not to underestimate this hurricane. She said, "This is really a serious storm. We have in every way tried to prepare as much as possible, to keep you safe as possible. But we can't take you by the hand and bring you to the upstate. We can't take you by the hand and say we need to get you out of there. I am begging you at this point."
Lt. Denis said shelters are not empty and about 100 families are residing in the shelters as of Friday morning. He said shelters are running smoothly, but people with special needs began to arrive there Thursday night and in to Friday morning. He said people with special needs are not admitted in to shelters because the few staff members running the shelter are not equipped or trained to take care of people with special needs.
Three hundred National Guard men and women arrived in Horry County this week and will be stationed throughout the county, but mostly at major intersections.
If you have any questions about the hurricane, you're urged to call the Horry County EOC 24/7 hotline at (843) 915-5150.