Hurricane Matthew – should you stay or should you go?

Hurricane Matthew – should you stay or should you go?
October 06 13:08 2016 Print This Article

Governor Nikki Haley called for a coastal evacuation from Hurricane Matthew on Wednesday afternoon. An estimated 175,000 coastal residents have evacuated, short of the 250,000 expected by South Carolina emergency management officials.

Haley ordered a lane reversal on I-26 from the I-526 junction in North Charleston to the I-77 junction near Columbia. It is the first time such as lane reversal has been carried out. The South Carolina Highway Patrol initially only allowed drivers to exit I-26 at mile marker 187 near Ridgeville but has added westbound exits at mile-markers 209, 205, 203,194 and 165 east of Columbia.

The lane reversal has been very effective. ABC News 4 reports that traffic is moving at the speed limit between North Charleston and Columbia. The eastbound lanes on I-26 were not reversed during the Hurricane Floyd evacuation in 1999, resulting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The impact of Matthew is not likely to be felt until late Friday afternoon, so evacuation is still an option. Most hotel rooms in the Columbia area and the Upstate are booked. Another option for those who wish to evacuate is the room-rental service www.airbnb.com.

The projected track for Hurricane Matthew as of 11 am shows it moving along the Florida coast and then curving offshore between Savannah and Charleston.  ABC News 4 meteorologist Emily Gracey projects that we can expect to sustain tropical storm force winds with hurricane force gusts (wind speed greater than 73 miles per hour) for 18-24 hours, starting Friday evening and 8-14 inches of rainfall.

Whether you plan to evacuate or not, remove any objects from your yard which are not anchored down, as they will get propelled into houses by the storm.  Consider helping elderly neighbors with yard-clearance.  Also, everyone should fill up their vehicle gas tanks today, as gas stations are likely to be closed immediately before and after the storm.  Communicate with your neighbors about your plans for the storm.

Those planning to ride out the storm should have a several-day supply of bottled water, non-perishable food and ice to preserve perishable food in coolers in the likely event electrical power goes out.  The number to report power outages is 888-333-4465 for SCE&G customers and 888-769-7688 for Santee-Cooper customers.

Each of the local counties has a citizen information hotline to help residents deal with the storm and its aftermath.  In Charleston County, the hotline number is 843-746-3900.  It is 843-719-4800 in Berkeley County and 843-832-0393 in Dorchester County.