According to CNN; As Hurricane Matthew sets its sights on the US, more than 2 million people have already been urged to flee their homes, with more evacuations likely as the deadly storm makes its way past the Bahamas.
State officials in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia cautioned residents not to hunker down at home if they live in the hurricane’s potential path. Not all of the millions of people in Matthew’s path have been ordered to leave, but the mandatory evacuations are the largest since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast from North Carolina to New York in 2012.
Early Thursday the hurricane, which already has killed at least 15 people in several Caribbean countries, was about 60 miles (95 kilometers) southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and 255 miles (410 kilometers) from West Palm Beach, Florida. The National Hurricane Center isn’t saying that Matthew will make landfall in Florida, but that the center of the storm will get “very near” the Atlantic Coast, possibly as a Category 4 hurricane.
Matthew was packing 125 mph (205 kph) winds as the eye neared the Northwest Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said. President Barack Obama warned Americans in the storm’s path to pay attention and take any evacuation orders seriously. He said if the core of the storm strikes Florida, it could have a “devastating effect.”
Mandatory evacuations in South Carolina
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gave evacuation orders for the coastal counties of Charleston and Beaufort.
An estimated 250,000 residents evacuated from Charleston and Beaufort, said Kim Stenson, the director of South Carolina Emergency Management. He said as many as 200,000 people will leave Thursday.
Tempers apparently flared during the slow traffic out of Charleston. A man got out of his truck at point where vehicles were being redirected, removed a traffic cone and sped away. Police chased the man until he stopped on a dead-end road. Berkeley County Chief Deputy Mike Cochran told CNN that the man fired at deputies and police officers, who shot back and wounded the man.
The man was hospitalized, but his condition is unknown.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation changed the directions of eastbound traffic lanes to accommodate the exodus of people leaving coastal cities like Charleston.
But as thousands fled inland Wednesday, not everyone chose to evacuate. In Charleston, which likely will see the powerful storm’s impact this weekend, some people were boarding up businesses.
“I think we’re staying put,” Cheryl Quinn told CNN’s Stephanie Elam.
Quinn and her husband said they were fine a year ago when Charleston endured heavy rain after a brush with a big storm. “It was kind of a party down here. I hate to say that,” because storms can be scary, she added. Still, Quinn has reserved a hotel room just in case.