The Coast Guard closed the Port of Charleston at 10 a.m. Friday because of the expectation of gale force winds generated by Hurricane Matthew.
The port will be closed to incoming and outgoing vessels until the captain of the port changes the status.
Matthew is anticipated to make landfall within 12 hours. Coast Guard surface units have been removed from the water or into safe harbor. Soon, Coast Guard air units will no longer fly for missions until Matthew passes.
Mariners are reminded that it will become more difficult for Coast Guard assets to respond as Matthew approaches. Coast Guard search and rescue operations will resume when the Matthew passes.
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The port will remain closed to all incoming and outgoing vessel traffic until directed by the captain of the port during this condition.
The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:
▪ Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
▪ Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.
▪ Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
▪ Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
▪ Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center's website.
▪ Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16.
The captain of the port will adjust the port condition when the storm has passed and begin reopening to vessel traffic after initial damage assessments have been completed.