COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina authorities are preparing to evacuate thousands of people from low-lying coastal areas as Hurricane Matthew threatens.
Gov. Nikki Haley said the National Guard is already mobilized in South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew approaches the state.
She said Wednesday that the storm is slowing and that it will not be necessary to evacuate some 1 million people on Wednesday as she had considered on Tuesday. Instead, residents in Charleston and Beaufort are being ordered to leave Wednesday.
She said evacuations in Georgetown and Horry counties will be on Thursday.
She said 315 buses from Greenville will be in North Charleston at noon to take people to other areas.
Lane reversals on the road leading out of Charleston will begin at 3 p.m.
Before the forecast changed Wednesday morning, Haley said she would begin the massive evacuation effort that involves 3,700 law officers and reversing lanes to allow drivers on the wrong side of about a dozen highways at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
By Wednesday morning Channel 9 found families at rest stops along I-77 in Chester, fleeing from the South Carolina coast.
Everyone said they wanted to beat the 3 p.m. evacuation deadline. Some people told Channel 9 it took them 6 hours overnight to get to Charlotte.
"I definitely didn't want to push my luck," said evacuee Barrett Maconson.
Currently there are no hurricane watches or warnings for the South Carolina coast, and conditions aren't expected to begin deteriorating until late morning or early afternoon Friday in the southernmost parts of the state. But Haley said the state needs to start well in advance so the evacuation can be orderly and comfortable.
"The key is we want to be safe, but we want to make sure it is not a frustrating situation for people," Haley said at a Tuesday news conference.
It is the first massive evacuation in South Carolina since Hurricane Floyd brushed the state in 1999. The governor then did not reverse lanes on Interstate 26, and a typical two-hour ride turned into a 24-hour nightmare.
The state Climatology Office says a hurricane has not made landfall in South Carolina since Gaston moved ashore north of Charleston in August 2004. Matthew is forecast to hit the state as a Category 2 or 3 storm — the strongest since Hugo slammed into Charleston in 1989.
Schools are closing for the rest of the week in the southern and eastern half of the state so they can be turned into shelters, and government offices are closing in those same counties to pull traffic off roads needed as evacuation routes.
Greenville County is sending more than 350 school buses to Charleston County to evacuate people without a car. State agencies were arranging evacuations of people with special medical needs, Haley said.
Highway Lane Reversals: The South Carolina Department of Transportation is providing the following information about the highways where lane reversals will be used as part of the coastal evacuation as Hurricane Matthew approaches the state:
- Hilton Head – One lane is reversed to create three lanes traveling west on US 278 at the intersection of the Spanish Wells Drive and Moss Creek Village Drive. This reversal is approximately two miles in length.
- Beaufort – US 21 is reversed to create three lanes at US 21 Business and continues until US 17.
- Charleston to Columbia – A full, four lane reversal on I-26 in Charleston begins at the interchange of I-26 and I-526. The full reversal continues west until the I-26 crossover to I-77 just outside Columbia in Lexington County.
- Horry County – Horry County has two, four lane reversals: 1) SC 544 to US 378 and 2) SC 22 (Conway Bypass) to SC 576 near Marion County.
Officials on Edisto Island began knocking on doors Tuesday afternoon, asking people to leave as a storm surge of up to 10 feet could inundate the island if it takes a direct hit. Haley said she hopes people listen and leave.
"If you think you can take care of yourself, at least think of my law enforcement and my National Guardsmen because they are going to have to be the ones that go out and try and get you. You are putting their lives at stake," the governor said.
About 1 million people have moved to South Carolina since Hurricane Floyd threatened and that extra population has provided its own challenges. Still, the governor said her staff is ready after six years of exercises.
People who live in the following coastal areas should evacuate immediately:
Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley County Evacuation Zones A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and I
Zone A: West of the Ashley River - Unincorporated areas of Charleston County from the Ashley River to the Colleton County line; Atlantic Ocean to the Dorchester County Line. This includes the Town of Hollywood, Town of Meggett, Town of Ravenel, Town of Folly Beach, Town of Rockville, Town of Kiawah Island, the Town of Seabrook Island, James Island, Johns Island, Wadmalaw, and unincorporated Charleston County.
Zone B: Central Charleston - From the tip of the Peninsula to Ladson Road; from the Ashley River to the Wando River. This includes City of Charleston, City of North Charleston, the Town of Lincolnville, Daniel Island, Thomas Island, and unincorporated Charleston County.
Zone C: East of the Wando River - Unincorporated areas of Charleston County from the Atlantic Ocean to the Berkeley County line; Wando River to the Georgetown County line. This includes the Town of Mt. Pleasant, Town of Isle of Palms, Town of Sullivan's Island, Town of Awendaw, the Town of McClellanville, Dewees Island, Capers Island, and Goat Island.
Zone D: Sand Hills Area - West of Dorchester Road and the Ashley River, 17A to the Colleton County line and all areas bordering Charleston County.
Zone E: Miles Jamison/Oakbrook Area - Miles Jamison Road, between Ladson Road, to Bacons Bridge Road: including the Lakes of Summerville, Newington Plantation, Crestwood Subdivision south to Orangeburg Road, and South Main Mobile Home Park.
Zone F: The Swamp - Any other low-lying areas including the Cypress Swamp area, the Edisto River area and the Twin Lakes Subdivision.
- North of Woods Ave from end of road at east edge of rail yard to its intersection with Remount Rd.
- North of Remount Rd from its intersection with Woods Ave to its intersection with the railroad tracks just west of Dutton Ave.
- East of the railroad tracks from their intersection with Remount Rd to crossing over the Goose Creek (just south of Middle Earth Nursery and Infinger Furniture).
- Including all homes and businesses northeast of the intersection of Hwy 52 and Camelot Dr, continuing along Ryan Dr and Holly Ave across to Westview Blvd (includes buildings on both sides of Camelot Dr, Ryan Dr and Holly Ave).
- Crowfield Plantation from Westview Blvd near Holly Ave across I-26 along Ancrum Rd to its intersection with Hwy 78.
- Northeast of Hwy 78 from its intersection with Ancrum Rd (Ladson Rd) to its intersection with Hwy 17A (Main St) in Summerville.
- Southeast of Hwy 17A (Main St/S Live Oak Dr) from its intersection with Hwy 78 to its intersection with Cypress Gardens Rd.
- South of Cypress Gardens Rd from its intersection with Hwy 17A (S Live Oak Dr) to its intersection with Pimlico Blvd.
- South of Pimlico Blvd from its intersection with Cypress Gardens Rd through to its end.
- The area east of Wappaoolah Plantation and west of the Cooper River, north of Pimlico Blvd and south of Mepkin Abbey.
- Southeast of the railroad tracks from the Cooper River by Pimlico to its intersection with Hwy 402.
- South of Hwy 402 from its intersection with the railroad tracks near Cordesville to its intersection with Hwy 41 (Hwy 402 becomes Steed Creek Rd).
- Southwest of Steed Creek Rd from its intersection with Hwy 41 to its intersection with Halfway Creek Rd. West of Halfway Creek Rd from its intersection with Steed Creek Rd to its intersection with Guerins Bridge Rd.
- West of Guerins Bridge Rd from its intersection with Halfway Creek Rd to its intersection with Wando River (just after Drew Ln).
- Northwest of the Wando River from its intersection with Guerins Bridge Rd to its intersection with Nowell Creek with the addition of Patterson's Academy.
- North/northeast of Nowell Creek from its intersection with the Wando River to its intersection with Rebellion Farms Pl.
- Northeast of Rebellion Farms Pl from its intersection with Nowell Creek to its intersection of Clements Ferry Rd.
- Northeast of Yellow House Pl from its intersection with Clements Ferry Rd to the Cooper River (across from the Goose Creek).
- East of Halfway Creek Rd from its intersection with Forest Rd 200 (on the Berkeley/ Charleston county line) to its intersection with Slash Rd.
- East of Slash Rd from its intersection with Halfway Creek Rd to its intersection with Yellow Jacket Rd.
- North of Yellow Jacket Rd from its intersection with Slash Rd to its intersection with Horse Island Rd.
- East of Horse Island Rd from its intersection with Yellow Jacket Rd to its intersection with Tiger Corner Rd.
- Northeast of Tiger Corner Rd from its intersection with Horse Island Rd to its intersection with Hwy 17A.
- North of Hwy 17A from its intersection with Tiger Corner Rd to its intersection with Greenwood Dr.
- East of Greenwood Dr (becomes Peaceful Woods Rd) from its intersection with Hwy 17A to its intersection with Schurlknight Rd.
- Southeast of Schurlknight Rd from its intersection with Peaceful Woods Rd to its intersection with Hwy 45.
- Northeast of Hwy 45 from its intersection with Schurlknight Rd to its intersection with Belle Isle Rd.
- East of Belle Isle Rd from its intersection with Hwy 45 to the Santee River.
- Southwest of the Santee River from Belle Isle Rd to its intersection with the Berkeley/ Charleston county line.
- Northwest of the Berkeley-Charleston county line from its intersection with the Santee River to its intersection with Halfway Creek Rd.
Colleton County Evacuation Zone A
All areas south of the CSX Railroad, and all mobile homes and other floodplain areas in the County.
Beaufort County Evacuation Zone A
All residents and tourists in Beaufort County are to evacuate.
Jasper County Evacuation Zone A
Zone A - All areas east of I-95 and all mobile homes and other floodplain areas in the county.
Hurricane Matthew could put a hit on South Carolina-Georgia game
With Hurricane Matthew approaching, the South Carolina-Georgia football game is still on for Saturday night, even though Gov. Nikki Haley says she "can't imagine" the game being played as scheduled.
Several other games in the Palmetto State were affected with Football Championship Subdivision teams Charleston Southern and South Carolina State postponing their Saturday contests. Citadel, another FCS school, moved its game to the campus of Division II opponent North Greenville and will play Thursday night instead of Saturday.
But the biggest contest of the weekend is scheduled for Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium, where upward of 80,000 fans turn out to watch Southeastern Conference matchups.
South Carolina administrators said Tuesday they were consulting with the SEC, the National Weather Service and local authorities and would make a decision about the game later in the week.
Matthew is a Category 4 storm with winds up to 145 mph. It is on track to hit South Carolina and potentially disrupt the game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The storm was about 1,000 miles from Charleston on Tuesday. But forecasters predict the hurricane will move near or along South Carolina's coast late Friday into early Saturday as a Category 2 storm.
Charleston Southern, located about 20 miles from the coast, canceled several sporting events the rest of the week, including its football game with Albany State. The school had pushed the game up to Thursday night before deciding to postpone it.
South Carolina State, an FCS school that's about an hour's drive from the coast, postponed its game Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.
Citadel shuffled its game to Tigerville, home of North Greenville some 230 miles northwest of the Bulldogs' home in Charleston.
South Carolina announced it has cancelled classes at its main campus for Wednesday and anticipated remaining closed Thursday and Friday.
If South Carolina's game is changed or delayed, it would be the second straight season that weather has altered the Gamecocks' football season. Last year's deadly flooding after a weekend of unprecedented rain led the university to move a home game with LSU to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in part because many of the state troopers and safety officials necessary to hold a home football game were taking part in cleanup and recovery duties.
A similar situation might occur if Matthew hits South Carolina.
Haley said Tuesday that the ultimate call on whether to play the game would be made by the schools and the SEC.
"As of now, I can't imagine that happening, but certainly we're going to continue to watch this," she said. "I would love nothing more than to see this take a right-hand turn and go out to sea."
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he's not involved in planning for the storm because he's too busy looking into how to slow down Georgia's offense.
"Our administration is handling all of that through the SEC office," he said. "All of my energy is game planning for the game. Whatever happens happens. I'm not the least bit worried about it."
No. 3 Clemson is on the road this week, playing Friday night at Boston College. The Tigers are scheduled to leave Thursday and should miss any potentially bad weather.
The only other FCS game scheduled for Saturday in the Palmetto State was Furman hosting Samford in Greenville, far from the coastal areas where the storm's heaviest impacts are expected.
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