South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has said she is planning to issue an evacuation order on Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Matthew so that as many as 1 million people can safely and comfortably leave the coast.
Haley said at a Tuesday news conference that she will finalize the order Wednesday morning, unless there is a major shift in the storm’s track, according to The Associated Press.
The evacuation will start at around 3 p.m. local time on Wednesday. State officials say lanes on major evacuation routes will be reversed.
It would be the state’s first major evacuation since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when the governor at the time didn’t reverse the lanes and Interstate 26 became backed up for hours and traffic was left at a standstill. A two-hour drive from Charleston to Columbia turned into a 24-hour disaster for drivers.
“If you can leave early do that, the goal is to not leave all at once,” Haley said, according to WLTX. She said that storm surges of 5 to 7 feet are a possibility, while winds of 100 mph or more are expected.
“As of right now we’re looking for Friday night into Saturday being pretty brutal,” Haley said.
A hurricane watch was issued for portions of Florida on Tuesday as Hurricane Matthew slammed the Caribbean, hammering Haiti with rain and wind.
The cyclone could hit Florida midday on Thursday, while the storm could linger around for as long as a day, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Florida and North Carolina also effected state of emergencies. Coastal residents were similarly warned to evacuate, NBC News reported.
The latest National Hurricane Center projections show Matthew moving past Florida on Friday before making landfall somewhere around the border of North and South Carolina at 8 a.m. on the same day.
“Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area in Florida by late Thursday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Thursday. Tropical storm condition are also possible in the Florida tropical storm watch area by early Thursday,” the agency said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott noted that 200 members of the National Guard were activated and said that “evacuation orders might be issued today” for some coastal cities, NBC reported.
“This is a dangerous and life-threatening storm, the likes of which our state has not seen in a decade,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said. “Florida is currently in Matthew’s path, and Floridians need to take today to prepare.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.