Politics & Government

Haley says 175,000 in SC have evacuated: ‘That’s not enough’

SC Gov. Nikki Haley encouraged any residents who have not evacuated from South Carolina’s coast to get out now before Hurricane Matthew passes by the state this weekend.

The governor told a press conference on Thursday that 175,000 people have evacuated so far, but state officials expected 250,000 from the Charleston and Beaufort areas to move inland.

“That’s not enough,” Haley said. “We need to have more people evacuating.”

Haley cautioned Lowcountry residents staying put that stores including gas and pharmacies will soon close and those services will be unavailable to those who stay.

Haley ordered coastal residents to begin evacuating on Tuesday, and lanes on Interstate 26 were reversed Wednesday so drivers could head away from the hurricane zone in all lanes.

Haley said the Interstate 26 east lane reversals “ran beautifully.” The average travel time on the interstate is about an hour and a half, she said.

Residents of the Charleston and Beaufort areas were asked to evacuate on Wednesday. Those in the Horry and Georgetown county areas are encouraged to begin evacuating at noon Thursday.

A lane reversal is possible in Horry County on U.S. 501, but that decision is made in conjunction with counties on what they feel is needed.

The I-26 reversal will continue as long as traffic is moving, Haley said.

Haley said that Richland and Lexington county schools were closed this week because of the I-26 lane reversal. Authorities did not want extra congestion and school traffic on the roads, she said.

Hurricane evacuation has already loaded Columbia with evacuees, closed schools and offices, canceled high school football games and has left Saturday’s match-up between USC and Georgia in doubt.

Check back for updates.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

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