South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday ordered an evacuation of two counties as Hurricane Matthew continued north, threatening to hit the U.S. coast later this week.
Haley reversed the lanes of Interstate 26 so that all lanes of traffic were headed west and out of Charleston. It was the first time the lanes had been reversed. Plans to reverse the lanes were put in place after hours-long traffic jams during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
The governor planned to call for more evacuations on Thursday, which would bring the total to about 500,000 people in the state. Florida urged or ordered about 1.5 million to leave the coast, said Jackie Schutz, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott. Georgia had around 50,000 people told to go.
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At Folly Beach, South Carolina, southwest of Charleston, Gaby Trompeter loaded her car at her beachfront home preparing to evacuate to Augusta, Georgia.
Trompeter, a 50-year-old goldsmith who designs and makes jewelry, remembers Hurricane Hugo when she stayed in Savannah, Georgia, in 1989.
A year ago when what has been described as a 1,000-year flood inundated South Carolina there was so much water on the road near her house she couldn't get out for three days.
"If it brings a lot of rain, more than the storm last year, why would I want to stay?" she said.
Haley said only residents in Charleston and Beaufort counties are ordered to leave on Wednesday, with more evacuations expected Thursday.