CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston's mayor quoted the Book of Matthew in a Friday afternoon press conference hours ahead of Hurricane Matthew's arrival.
"Tomorrow the storm will be upon us, and it should finally pass," Tecklenburg said. "We've watched Matthew for these last few days, really for the last week or so. We've watched it wreak destruction in Haiti and other islands. We've now watched it plunder its way up the coast of Florida and headed directly in our direction. And in this instant media world, we follow Matthew, you could almost say, chapter and verse. And so, I read to you from the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27, whereby Jesus calms the storm:
"'Suddenly, a furious storm came up to the lake so that the waves swept over the boat. The disciples were afraid, and the Lord replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' And then He got up and He rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.'
"You know, Charleston rises to the occasion," Tecklenburg said. "We have proven time and time again that in times of disaster and struggle, we are at our best. We are not afraid, we are ready. We are not afraid, we have faith. We do pray for God's protection of our city and our citizens, and we ask for everyone to join us to pray not just for us but for everyone who has been impacted by this storm. We are not afraid because we have faith, but also because of our preparedness and our preparations. We are not afraid because of our remarkable first responders and the response team, not just of the City of Charleston, but first responders and emergency operations personnel, everyone. We do ask everyone to get ready, to be alert, to be safe, and God Bless."
Tecklenburg's message of encouragement followed warnings from the city's emergency management chief.
"Hurricane Matthew remains a very serious and dangerous threat to the citizens of the city of Charleston," City of Charleston Emergency Management Director Mark Wilbert said. "As we have been saying all week, this is a triple threat. We are going to have significant rain, we will have a potentially record-setting surge and very, very dangerous winds."
He said that record-setting high tide is expected at midnight to 1 a.m. and that it would not be a time for people to be out and about sightseeing during the storm.
People who chose to remain in Charleston despite desperate pleas from city leaders to evacuate were urged to prepare.
"If you have made the decision to stay, please prepare and take appropriate precautions," Wilbert said. "Please ensure that someone knows your plans and that they are responsible to check in on you after the storm has passed," Wilbert said.
Tecklenburg said the biggest threats to the city and residents' safety would be flooding and the winds.
"The current projection is that the track of the storm could be even closer to the coast at Charleston than it has been alongside Florida, so wind is certainly an extreme factor as well," he said.
Police Chief Greg Mullen said the city would implement a curfew beginning at midnight overnight through 6 a.m. Saturday. The curfew, he said, applies to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Mullen said the city has resources deployed throughout the city where there is the potential for significant damage so that they will be immediately available to respond. That deployment, he said, would allow the city to work in teams in the aftermath of Matthew to handle law enforcement, security, fire and medical assistance to clearing roadways of downed trees and power lines.
"The roadways are going to become very dangerous very quickly," he said. "Most of the businesses in the downtown area and outlying parts of the city have closed and we thank them for that. We don't want people coming back into the areas when we're trying to secure them."
Mullen said that as the height of the storm starts to arrive, residents who have chosen to stay will not receive the five-to-seven-minute response time they are used to by calling 911 in an emergency.
"We're going to do everything we can to make you safe and secure and get to you for help as quickly as possible, but at the same time, we want you to understand there are going to be delays," he said.