Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency Tuesday and said that evacuations in coastal communities will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday - at least two days before Hurricane Matthew is predicted to hit the Carolinas.
Evacuations for people residing in Horry County between U.S. 17 Business/Kings Highway and the Atlantic Ocean (Evacuation Zone A) will begin at 3 p.m. Government offices and schools will be closed beginning Wednesday and lane reversals will be put into place on major routes to aid the evacuation.
The National Weather Service announced in its 6:15 p.m. advisory there only are minor changes in Hurricane Matthew’s trajectory and its potential impact for the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina.
Impacts from the storm, the NWS said, would begin Friday and persist into Saturday before improving Sunday.
While the advisory says to not pay attention to the exact track of the hurricane as it will shift over time, its trajectory does move slightly east and later into the weekend.
The latest model shows a direct hit to Wilmington, N.C., around 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Uncertainty still remains, but overall there is general agreement within the models bringing Matthew to, or near, the Carolina coast at the end of the week,” according to the release.
Myrtle Beach is projected to experience rainfalls totaling 5-9 inches.
“All residents should continue their preparation on Wednesday and begin wrapping them up on Thursday and early Friday morning,” the release stated.
Haley said in a press conference Tuesday that the state is starting evacuations early in order to facilitate the safe evacuation of an estimated 1 million people.
When asked if the evacuations will be mandatory, Haley said, “We don’t do voluntary and mandatory anymore. An evacuation is an evacuation.”
“If you can leave sooner, leave,” she said, adding that people should also make sure they have a full tank of gas before they hit the road.
Haley said she declared a state of emergency for the state of South Carolina at 7:30 a.m.
“I would ask everybody to not take this lightly,” Haley said.
The S.C. Emergency Management Division’s website reporting updates on Hurricane Matthew was down immediately after the press conference.
And emergency council meetings were called in North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach Tuesday afternoon for leaders to declare their own states of emergency as they braced for the unknown and prepared for the worst.
Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti's southwestern tip with howling, 145 mph winds Tuesday, tearing off roofs in the poor and largely rural area, uprooting trees and leaving rivers bloated and choked with debris. At least nine deaths were blamed on the storm during its week-long march across the Caribbean.
Forecasters said Matthew could hit Florida toward the end of the week and push its way up the East Coast over the weekend. The forecast triggered a rush by Americans to stock up on food, gasoline and other emergency supplies.
The dangerous Category 4 storm — at one point the most powerful hurricane in the region in nearly a decade — blew ashore around dawn in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, hitting a corner of Haiti where many people live in shacks of wood or concrete blocks. It unloaded heavy rain as it swirled on toward a lightly populated part of Cuba and the Bahamas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tips from the S.C. Emergency Management Division
Prepare to evacuate: Residents preparing to evacuate should become familiar with evacuation routes, which are marked with special signs. Consider where you will stay once you evacuate. Options include: a hotel, motel, or friend’s home that is outside the vulnerable area or an American Red Cross shelter. Hotels and motels fill up quickly and out-of-county evacuations take time. Emergency shelters will be announced as soon as they are open.
Fuel cars, keep supplies in vehicles, secure important documents: If the storm approaches South Carolina, individuals and families should fill up their cars with gas. Road maps, nonperishable snack foods, a first-aid kit that includes a supply of your family’s prescription medications, and convenience items such as diapers should be available in the car. Secure important documents in waterproof packaging.
Consider the safety of pets: Pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters. Individuals and families should plan to board pets with veterinarians, kennels, or other facilities in non-vulnerable areas. Identification and rabies tags should be attached to the pets’ collars.
For Re-entry: Residents and business owners will be allowed immediate access into the area once it is deemed safe. Law enforcement officers may establish checkpoints during re-entry. Returning residents, essential employees and business owners will be required to show proper identification, including driver’s license, company ID cards or documents showing ownership/rental of business. In cases where an address on a driver’s license does not correspond to the area being entered, other documents such as utility bills, mortgage deeds, property tax documents and car registrations will be accepted at established checkpoints. Re-entry could be a slow process and people are asked to remain patient and to use caution when returning to the area.
If the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane watch, a hurricane will be possible within 48 hours, and residents who live in vulnerable areas should stay tuned. If a hurricane warning is issued, a hurricane is expected within 36 hours. If you live in a highly vulnerable area and are advised to evacuate, you should be prepared to leave immediately. The state urges individuals and families to do the following:
Everyone in South Carolina is urged to continue to monitor the developing forecasts from the National Hurricane Center through local news media and trusted sources online. Pay attention to emergency warnings from local and state public safety officials and take safety actions if instructed to do so.
South Carolina’s Emergency Response Team is operating 24-hours a day from the state’s emergency operations center preparing for hazardous conditions associated with Hurricane Matthew.
Horry County Evacuation Routes
- North Myrtle Beach and northward: Evacuees from north of Briarcliffe Acres will take SC 9 north to I-95 and beyond.
- Briarcliffe Acres south to Myrtle Beach 10th Avenue North: Evacuees in Briarcliffe Acres south to 10th Avenue North will take SC 22 (Conway Bypass) to US 501 to Marion. In Marion, they may then take US 76 to Florence to access I-95 southbound or they may stay on US 501 to SC 38 to access I-95 northbound.
- Myrtle Beach, from 10th Avenue North south to the Myrtle Beach International Airport: Evacuees from the Myrtle Beach area south of 10th Avenue North and north of the Myrtle Beach International Airport will take US 501 to Conway. They may then take US 378 to Columbia or continue on US 501 to Marion. In Marion they may then take US 76 to Florence to access I-95 southbound or they may stay on US 501 to SC 38 to access I-95 northbound.
- Myrtle Beach International Airport southward through Surfside Beach: Evacuees from the Myrtle Beach International Airport south through Surfside Beach will take SC 544 to US 501 to Conway. They may then take US 378 to Columbia or continue on US 501 to Marion. In Marion they may then take US 76 to Florence to access I-95 southbound or they may stay on US 501 to SC 38 to access I-95 northbound.
- Garden City Beach south to Winyah Bay: Evacuees from Garden City Beach south to Winyah Bay will take US 17 south through Georgetown. They will then take US 521 to SC 261 to US 378 to Columbia. Alternatively, they may take US 17 south to US 701 in Georgetown to SC 51 to US 378 at Kingsburg.