Even after Hurricane Matthew passes by South Carolina, anyone who evacuated earlier this week should not plan to go home right away.
“Do not plan on going back home today or tomorrow,” Gov. Nikki Haley said at a Saturday morning.
Haley warned that many hurricane-related deaths occur after a storm passes, because people attempt to enter unsafe areas in a rush to get back home. It will take time for law enforcement, road workers and utility crews to get to hurricane-ravaged areas.
She warned residents to avoid downed power lines and avoid closed roads.
“Now is when the frustration sets in,” she said. The governor urged evacuees to be patient.
“I know you want to see your home, I know you want to get back,” Haley said.
Access to Kiawah and Seabrook islands is cut off and cell phone service has been lost on Pawley’s Island, Haley said.
In addition, a tornado was reported in North Myrtle Beach early Saturday.
Once it is safe to return, Haley said she does not foresee a need to reverse traffic lanes on Interstate 26 to allow evacuees to return home, as happened when evacuations were first announced earlier this week.
The governor also warned against opening emails that supposedly provide information about power outages. She said this was an attempt by hackers to get into a victim’s computer.
“If you do not know the person sending you the email, delete it, don’t click,” Haley said.
Hurricane force winds left thousands without power throughout the state early Saturday morning – a total of 437,303 across the state.
The most outages Saturday morning were in Beaufort, Charleston and Richland counties.
However, Haley said no deaths directly related to the storm were immediately reported.
Haley said a seemingly unrelated inmate death occurred at Ridgeland Correctional Institution overnight.
A high amount of rainfall and storm surge were seen along the coast. Parts of Interstate 95 in the lower part of the state were impassable early Saturday.
Residents as far up the coast as Georgetown have seen howling winds and soaking rains.
See the latest social media reaction to the hurricane here.