Hurricane Matthew: US Evacuations Begin Ahead of Storm

CNN/ Newswire | 10/5/2016, 8:08 a.m.
Hurricane Matthew likely won't strike the US for another day -- but after seeing its devastating impact on Haiti, many ...
Hurricane Matthew's took its last lashes at Haiti, where it downed trees, drenched the ground with feet of rain and flooded streets. The damage was especially brutal in southern Haiti, where sustained winds of 130 mph continued to punish the impoverished island nation.

The effects of the incoming storm have already been felt at gas stations in south Florida. CNN affiliate WSVN reported long lines at gas pumps at a Costco in North Miami Beach.

"I'm just waiting my turn," one woman told WSVN while being interviewed from behind her wheel. "I know it'll be worse tomorrow."

In Juniper, Florida, local resident Randy Jordan told CNN affiliate WPEC people were pushing and shoving their way through the local Home Depot to ranging from batteries to flashlights.

"The vibe on the street this morning is pre-panic," Jordan said. "By tomorrow, it should just be a brawl."

Georgia governor: 'Remain calm but vigilant'

Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 13 coastal counties.

"We urge residents in these areas to remain calm but vigilant as they prepare for potential impact," Deal said.

Massive gridlock in South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also declared a state of emergency, said the emergency workers would begin medical evacuations ahead of Hurricane Matthew on Tuesday and coastal evacuations on Wednesday afternoon.

Kim Stenson, the state's emergency management director, said Tuesday morning more than 1 million people might be affected by evacuation orders.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation had started to use lane reversals to accommodate traffic leaving coastal cities like Charleston. On Interstate 26, the main highway out of Charleston, cars crawled west Tuesday night in bumper-to-bumper traffic, according to CNN affiliate WSPA and a CNN producer.

Schools and government offices in 25 counties will be closed Wednesday. Some schools will double as evacuation shelters.

North Carolina tourists sent packing

Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for more than half of the state's 100 counties.

North Carolina emergency officials currently expect up to eight inches of inches of rain as well as heavy winds starting Friday.

"Many of our central and eastern counties are already saturated from storms during the past few weeks," North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said. "We are preparing for additional flooding, downed trees and widespread power outages in the coming days."

Authorities in Hyde County have issued a mandatory evacuation order for Ocracoke Island, a popular tourist destination, ahead of Hurricane Matthew. Visitors will evacuate starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Resident evacuations begin at 5 a.m. Thursday.

The University of North Carolina-Wilmington has also ordered students to evacuate no later than noon Thursday.

CNN's Taylor Ward, Dave Hennen, Holly Yan, Steve Visser and Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.