Haley encourages evacuations as gas stations, stores begin to close

Haley encourages evacuations as gas stations, stores begin to close

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Governor Haley implored residents of South Carolina's coastal communities to evacuate as many gas stations, banks and pharmacies get ready to close in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Haley said 175,000 people had evacuated by 6 a.m., but that wasn't enough as businesses are starting to shut their doors. She said state officials would have liked 250,000 people to evacuate.

Circle K gas stations closed at noon Thursday, Haley said, and more closures would follow.

Haley ordered a noon evacuation for Zone A in Horry and Georgetown counties due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew. Zone "A" includes all areas east of U.S. Business 17 (Kings Hwy), up to the intersection with U.S. 17 (Kings Hwy) and all areas east of US 17 (Kings Hwy) to the Northern county line.

Haley initially told members of all coastal communities to evacuate Wednesday, but after the storm's track shifted, said Charleston and Beaufort were the only counties under that evacuation that day.

By Wednesday night, 38 shelters were open in the state and an additional 50 can be opened as needed, Haley said.

"So far 677 residents are living in shelters at this point," the Governor said. One special needs shelter and two pet-friendly shelters are among them.

Hurricane Matthew strengthened into a Category 4 storm as was toward the Florida coast before noon Thursday. It is expected to weaken as it moves north, but will pass very near the Charleston area between Friday and Saturday. Experts expect the storm to make a sharp turn to the right as it nears the Myrtle Beach area.

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