Meanwhile, those heeding the call for evacuation filled the roads headed upstate in an effort to escape the coast. All lanes of I-26 are being directed westward, and the lane reversals are expected to remain in effect until at least Friday. Mayor John Tecklenburg applauded the many coastal residents who had chosen to leave Charleston in advance of the storm and said he feels confident that the city will be able to successfully bounce back from the effects of Matthew.
“We have excellent folks on staff who are ready, willing, and able to come to task. In addition, we have contractors who we have pre-positioned contracts with who will help us clean up in the event it’s more than city crews can handle,” said Tecklenburg. “It could take a little time depending on how bad it is, but I feel like we’re up to the task.”
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen urged all those who remained in the city to make whatever final preparations are necessary before leaving the area. According to Mullen, travel back and forth across the city will be restricted as the storm approaches, and a strong police presence will be maintained over the coming days.
“There will be a very visible presence throughout the area because we want to make sure that we still maintain security within the areas of the city that we normally do. There will be a significant presence on traffic posts throughout the city, as well. So I don’t think there will be a reduction in visibility,” said Mullen. “I think there will be an increase in visibility of law enforcement throughout the city because not only do we want to make sure people are safe, we want to make sure properties are safe as well. We’ve gone on 12-hour shifts as of this morning at 8 a.m. Our entire department is activated. Everybody is available for work, and we are going to make sure that we do everything we can to make the city as safe and secure as it can possibly be during this storm.”
As Wednesday’s evacuation of Charleston went into effect, downtown streets were largely empty save for teams of workers hurrying to board up shop windows and those looking to ride out the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Shoppers making their way down King Street continued to peek their heads into stores as business owners began to close up shop for the week. What few bars remained open saw a healthy stream of customers who seemed unphased by the approaching storm.