COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Travelers on several South Carolina highways experienced dense traffic today as residents and vacationers on the coast evacuated ahead of Hurricane Dorian.
Governor Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation and a lane reversal on I-26 beginning at noon today. State officials said that there are over eight hundred thousand people that are in the evacuation zones along the coast in Georgetown, Horry, Charleston, Berkeley, Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper.
Traffic was dense for most of the afternoon for cars traveling on the westbound side, while it was lighter on the eastbound side where the lanes opened today. This is because there were limited places along I-26 where cars can enter the eastbound lanes.
South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper David Jones said that highway patrol began blocking off the highway around seven-thirty this morning, preparing to evacuate people from Charleston.
Travelers on the other side of the interstate coming from Charleston started passing through this area around 11:45 a.m. this morning according to Trooper Jones.
Many of the drivers told me they left early this morning before the lane reversal was open, saying they didn’t want to wait for Dorian to get any closer.
“Take your family and get out,” James Island resident Joyce Morgan said. “Nothing is worth sitting there and you can’t save your house. You can’t save your stuff inside.”
Many vacationers, like Robert Greene who was staying in Charleston for the weekend, said that their hotels evacuated starting this morning.
“Definitely take it serious,” Green said. “You know we heard about the storm so we got our provision and stuff before we left just in case, so we are prepared.”
Many of the travelers said that they expected this type of heavy traffic today for the evacuation.
“Well I’m surprised it’s not worse,” St. Helena Island resident Virigina Branch said. “Because they did set mandatory evacuations for the lowlands and south Carolina at eight o’clock this morning and I hoped to leave before that and I didn’t make it so I’ve been places that the traffic isn’t worse.”
Trooper Jones said you can only move from one side of the interstate to the other at certain designated exits. There are less than 30 exits on the 1-26 lane reversal stretch.
State officials say that there are over eight hundred thousand people that are in the evacuation zones along the coast.