FOLLY BEACH, S.C. — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew’s impact on South Carolina (all times local):
Gov. Nikki Haley says she is evaluating the forecast for Hurricane Matthew day-by-day and can change her mind about closing schools, lane reversals or other decisions.
Haley said she will keep acting with utmost caution as long as South Carolina remains in the National Hurricane Center’s forecast cone for Matthew.
The governor said her team watched Wednesday as the forecast for the hurricane had the storm pulling away from the coast, and then later shifted it to hugging the South Carolina shoreline.
The governor called it “a roller coaster of emotions.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she currently plans to order evacuations of Georgetown and Horry counties at noon Thursday ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
Haley said at a news conference Wednesday evening that she will finalize the order Thursday morning if the hurricane’s forecast does not change.
Authorities say about 500,000 people will have been ordered to leave South Carolina’s coast if Haley goes through with the full evacuation .
Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall says lane reversals leaving the coast will stay in place at least through Friday morning.
The governor says nearly every hotel room in the state is booked with a few rooms left in the Upstate. She suggests people without a room stay in public shelters, go to Asheville or Charlotte, North Carolina, or look for a private room through web services like Airbnb.
Traffic is driving inland in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 in South Carolina for the first time.
A police escort around 4 p.m. Wednesday marked the beginning of the lane reversal on the main highway between Charleston and Columbia.
Plans to reverse lanes during a mass evacuation were put in place after huge traffic jams in Hurricane Floyd in 1999. But the evacuation for Hurricane Matthew was the first time troopers closed all the entrances to I-26 east allowing four lanes of traffic inland.
People in the eastbound lanes must go all the way to Columbia before exiting. All exits to and from Interstate 95 are closed and comfort stations with bathrooms and water have been set up.
Evacuation orders have been issued in nearly all of Beaufort and Charleston counties and surrounding areas.
Road crews are starting to close the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 from Columbia to Charleston to prepare to use the lanes for a hurricane evacuation route.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation said a rolling roadblock has started at Interstate 77, closing ramps to I-26 east one by one.
The DOT hopes to have the process finished by 3 p.m. and open the eastbound lanes for people evacuating from Charleston to head inland from Hurricane Matthew.
Crews will also be reversing a lane of U.S. 278 leaving Hilton Head Island and U.S. 21 leaving Beaufort around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
All along the coast, people are boarding up. At Folly Beach, residents say they are worried most about flooding from the storm surge.
This story has been corrected to have 500,000 people in evacuation orders