Before settling in at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, Mayor John Tecklenburg said he took a short drive around his city.
Absent of its usual bustle, Teckleburg said the city was almost “eerie.” But it also brought on a sense of pride, because it meant residents had listened to the warnings of officials.
“I had the sense that we had really done all that we could do to make the city safe in preparation for this storm,” Tecklenburg said. “Of course, now it’s here. We’ve got to wait through the night and ride out the storm.”
City officials hunkered down and prepared to spend Friday night at the Gaillard Center at Calhoun and George streets, where Charleston’s municipal emergency operations center is housed.
Hurricane Matthew’s latest track is not spelling out good news for the Holy City. The Charleston office of the National Weather Service said during its forecast discussion at 9:20 p.m., that the storm is expected make its closest approach to Tybee Island shortly after midnight and Folly Beach around sunrise.
“Matthew’s eye is forecast to come uncomfortably close to the Charleston Metro area with the potential for the western eye wall to brush areas such as Kiawah Island, Folly Beach, Downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island with gusts in excess of 100 mph,” wrote a forecaster in the discussion.
A countywide curfew was scheduled from midnight through 6 a.m. Saturday, as a potentially record-setting high tide loomed over the Lowcountry.
High tide is expected around 1 a.m., Saturday, which could worsen the chances for flooding. It’s why Tecklenburg said there was a need for a curfew, because there’s “no good reason” to be out and about at that time.
“The latest track almost has dead aim to Charleston, South Carolina,” Teckleburg said. “We’re set to take the worse of what Matthew’s got left in it.”
Flooding from a combination of storm surge, rain and high tide is expected to be the biggest threat Charleston faces with Matthew. Forecasters are expecting storm surge as high as 8 feet. The storm is expected to bring around a foot of rain.
The peninsula city is surrounded by rivers that will swell with ocean water as the storm comes in. Streets are low-lying and already flood during intense storms.
Gov. Nikki Haley warned of the storm’s threat to barrier islands, including Sullivan’s, the Isle of Palms and Kiawah off Charleston’s coast.
Also, the state Department of Transportation and local law enforcement are monitoring Charleston’s Ravenel, Holt and Wando bridges. When the storm produces sustained winds of 40 mph, local law enforcement agencies will consider the bridges closed.