More than 1,800 South Carolinians have sought shelter at 35 emergency shelters as Hurricane Florence continues to threaten the Carolina coast.
The evacuees include Mark Patterson, who, along with 25 others, found a place to sleep in Ridge View High School’s gymnasium.
“Everything is great — people are very accommodating, very nice,” said the 49-year-old Patterson, who was returning to Charleston from Iowa on Tuesday when he discovered he could go no farther than Columbia after state officials ordered lane reversals on I-26. “I feel very welcome here.”
On Tuesday, state officials still were optimistic the now Category 3 storm would shift away from South Carolina. But that changed overnight.
Gov. Henry McMaster urged coastal residents Wednesday to seek shelter after the hurricane’s projected route shifted back toward the Palmetto State, threatening to bring tropical-storm and hurricane-force winds on Thursday and Friday.
An evacuation order remains in effect for Horry, Georgetown, Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties and Edisto Beach.
McMaster said Wednesday more than 300,000 coastal residents already have evacuated. With the storm’s threat increasing, S.C. Red Cross officials say they anticipate more South Carolinians will seek housing at shelters.
The shelters open Wednesday can house up to 35,000 evacuees. State officials said, if needed, they could open another 18 shelters with space for an additional 30,000-plus evacuees.
“These are meant to be a safe place to ride out the storm,” Red Cross regional spokesman Cuthbert Langley said Wednesday.
Charleston’s Patterson — who dined on pepperoni pizza Tuesday night and chicken biscuits Wednesday morning at Richland 2’s Ridge View High — said Wednesday he plans to pass the time reading books and doing Qigong, a Chinese series of exercises.
For some evacuees, Wednesday was their first time in Columbia.
Several checked out art at the Columbia Museum of Art. Others — including Wayne and Janice Watkins of Canada, forced to vacate their Myrtle Beach hotel — took in the city’s historic sites.
The couple arrived in Myrtle Beach on Friday and had planned to stay two weeks, Wayne Watkins said. “But we’re flying out of Atlanta tomorrow now.”
SC emergency shelters
▪ Clarendon 1 Resource Center (old Scott’s Branch School), 4th Street, Summerton
▪ Andrews Elementary School, 13072 County Line Road, Andrews
▪ Manning High School, 2155 Paxville Highway, Manning
▪ Kingstree Senior High School, 2084 Thurgood Marshall Road, Kingstree
▪ C.E. Murray High School, 222 C. E. Murray Blvd., Greeleyville
▪ Lake City High School, 652 N. Matthews Road, Lake City
▪ Wilson High School, 1411 E. Old Highway, Florence
▪ Cane Bay High School, 1624 State Road, Summerville, pet friendly
▪ Berkeley Middle School, 320 N. Live Oak Drive, Moncks Corner
▪ Goose Creek High School, 1137 Red Bank Road, Goose Creek
▪ St. Stephen Elementary, 1053 Russellville Road, St. Stephen
▪ East Clarendon Middle-High School, 1171 Pope St., Turbeville
▪ Dillon Middle School, 1803 Joan Drive, Dillon
▪ Dubose Middle School, 1005 Dubose School Road, Summerville, pet friendly
▪ South Florence High School, 3200 S. Irby St., Florence
▪ Timmonsville Education Center, 304 Kemper St., Timmonsville
▪ Aynor Middle School, 400 Frye Road, Galivants Ferry
▪ Conway High School, 2301 Church St., Conway
▪ Loris High School, 301 Loris Lions Road, Loris
▪ North Myrtle Beach High School, 3750 Sea Mountain Highway, Little River
▪ Ocean Bay Elementary School, 950 International Drive, Myrtle Beach
▪ Ocean Bay Middle School, 905 International Drive, Myrtle Beach
▪ Palmetto Bay Elementary School, 8900 S.C. 544, Myrtle Beach
▪ Whittemore Park Middle School, 1808 Rhue St., Conway
▪ Marion High School, 1205 S. Main St., Marion
▪ Branchville High School, 1349 Dorange Road, Branchville
▪ Hunter-Kinard Tyler School, Norway Road, Norway
▪ Lake Marion High School, 3656 Tee Vee Road, Santee, pet friendly
▪ Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, 601 Bruin Drive, Orangeburg
▪ Ridge View High School, 4801 Hard Scrabble Road, Columbia
▪ Mayewood Middle School, 4300 E. Brewington Road, Sumter
▪ D.P. Cooper Elementary School, 4568 Seaboard Road, Salters
▪ Hemingway High School, 402 S. Main St, Hemingway
▪ Colleton County High School, 150 Cougar Nation Drive, Walterboro
▪ Pleasant Hill Elementary, 127 Schoolhouse Road, Hemingway