Hurricane Matthew: Storm path ‘in favor of York County,' emergency official says

5 a.m. update for Hurricane Matthew
5 a.m. update for Hurricane Matthew

Coastal evacuations were underway Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew barreled toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, but local officials say York County is currently outside the storm’s cone.

Emergency management agencies from all 46 counties are in regular contact with state officials and the National Weather Service as the storm approaches.

“The track right now, which is subject to change, is in favor of York County,” said Chuck Haynes, director of York County Emergency Management. He said the storm appears to be moving eastward from the South Carolina coast, “which is taking York County out of the error cone that can be seen on the map.”

Storm models can change at a moment’s notice, and Haynes noted that Matthew’s forecasted path changed several times Tuesday.

“This does not mean that track can’t come back and we end up back in it,” he said. “Right now, the chances of us seeing a weather impact from Hurricane Matthew are very, very low.”

The impact York County can expect is an influx in traffic as coastal evacuees head inland.

“We’re going to have more traffic, more people around, more people in restaurants, that sort of thing,” he said.

The eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 were reversed Wednesday afternoon as coastal residents evacuated. The lane reversal started in Charleston and continued until Interstate 77 in Columbia, at which point traffic from the eastbound lanes was diverted onto I-77.

Chester County is on standby to help if called on by state officials, according to Ed Darby, deputy director of Chester County Emergency Management.

County and school officials and representatives from the American Red Cross, the S.C. Department of Transportation and other agencies met Tuesday to lay out plans in case Chester County is asked to help.

“If plans call for additional shelters, we’ll be ready to act,” he said, adding that hotels in the Columbia area are quickly filling up. “We expect Rock Hill and Charlotte to start getting full too.”

Darby encouraged residents to check their emergency supplies and make sure they have everything they need, in case the weather takes a bad turn.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala