WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Days ahead of Hurricane Matthew's arrival, evacuation plans and hurricane preparation is in the works across South Carolina and North Carolina's coast.
During a briefing Wednesday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley encouraged residents to evacuate.
"If you do not leave, you're putting a law enforcement officer's life on the line when they have to come back and get you," the governor said.
An estimated quarter of a million residents are being evacuating, not including tourists, and 350 buses will be picking up Charleston residents Wednesday and taking them to Greenville. The possibility of an estimated 1.1 million may be evacuated.
On Tuesday, Haley said the goal is to have everyone within 100 miles of the coast gone. She said storm surges of 5- to 7-feet are possible, and winds of 100 miles an hour are expected.
"If you can leave early, do that; the goal is to not leave all at once," Haley said. "As of right now, we're looking for Friday night into Saturday being pretty brutal."
Cars were already backing up Tuesday evening on the lane reversal of I-26 heading out of Charleston. Complete lane reversals are set to begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Residents can go to South Carolina's Emergency Management Division's website to find evacuation routes from their home address.
Charleston county and Beaufort county are scheduled to evacuate at 3 p.m. Wednesday while other counties will be evacuating throughout Thursday. Medical evacuations began Tuesday.
Nearly 4,000 South Carolina officers will aid in the evacuation process, and the National Guard has been mobilized. The University of South Carolina announced that its Columbia campus will be closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with all classes canceled as a result.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to reach the South Carolina coast Friday. Winds of 100 miles an hour are possible along the South Carolina coast. Due to the expected high winds, a burn ban will go into effect on Wednesday morning.
FEMA has deployed officials to state emergency operations centers in Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina. FEMA has also pre-positioned commodities and resources to incident support bases in Albany, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, employees at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have been told to report to work as usual just as students are being ordered to evacuate the campus.
A statement issued by the school on Wednesday said UNCW will be open and operational on Thursday. Employees should report to work as usual unless otherwise advised by supervisors. Officials said a decision regarding Friday will be made by Thursday at 3 p.m.
Students are under a mandatory campus evacuation order. Students must leave campus no later than noon on Thursday. The school said a decision regarding students' return to campus will be made and distributed as soon as possible.
UNCW is also asking faculty and staff volunteers to serve as host families for campus residential students over the weekend.
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