Gov. Nikki Haley announced at a press conference Tuesday that evacuations in coastal communities will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Government offices and schools will be closed beginning Wednesday and lane reversals will be put into place on major routes to aid the evacuation.
Haley said evacuations will start Wednesday, two days before Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit, in order to facilitate the safe evacuation of an estimated 1 million people.
When asked if the evacuations will be mandatory, Haley said, “We don’t do voluntary and mandatory anymore. An evacuation is an evacuation.”
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“If you can leave sooner, leave,” she said, adding that people should also make sure they have a full tank of gas before they hit the road.
Haley said she verbally declared a state of emergency for the state of South Carolina at 7:30 a.m. and has worked Tuesday to make that declaration official.
“I would ask everybody to not take this lightly,” Haley said.
The S.C. Emergency Management Division’s website reporting updates on Hurricane Matthew was down immediately after the press conference.