Residents fleeing SC coast, many seeking shelter near Charlotte - | WBTV Charlotte

Residents fleeing SC coast, many seeking shelter near Charlotte

(Michael Clark | WBTV) (Michael Clark | WBTV)
CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) -

Traffic between Columbia and Charlotte on Interstate 77 was already heavier than normal Wednesday as people fleed the South Carolina coast for shelter elsewhere. 

At the rest area in Chester County, SC, several cars are topped with luggage carriers or filled with items from families who are on the move.

“We boarded up as best we could and took everything that could be flying around and put it all away and hope for the best,” said John Kenney, who is on the way to Greensboro, NC.

Kenney, like many others, was walking his dog at the rest stop. People told WBTV they planned to stay off the coast for at least a few days while Hurricane Matthew passed.

“Everybody’s hoping that it’s not as bad as they expect it to be,” said Lynn McNair, who left her Beaufort home Wednesday morning.

McNair is hunkering down with a friend in Charlotte. She said it’s the first time she has had to leave her house since she moved to the coast.

“It’s very nice to have someone that will let you stay with them,” McNair said.

In a news conference Wednesday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that most hotels in Columbia were booked.

Several Rock Hill area hotel managers told WBTV space was hard to come by, as a disc golf championship was already scheduled for the next few days.

“Right now we don’t have any rooms, the phone calls came in, we took reservations as good we could. If they were coming in for the hurricane we gave a discount,” said Dilip Patel, at Microtel Inn and Suites.

Patel owns several other hotels that are also booked. Travelers checking in said they took all sorts of precautions before leaving their homes.

“We spent like 4 hours putting up hurricane shutters,” said Paul Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald will stay at his Rock Hill hotel and watch the storm hours away. He and everyone else hope the hurricane keeps turning away from the coastline.

“Governor Haley said to take it very seriously and where we live if a storm surge comes up, it could be at the house. So we’re not taking any chances,” Kenney said.

Northbound traffic on major South Carolina highways is expected to remain heavier over the next day as others follow the evacuation order.

FULL COVERAGE: CLICK HERE TO TRACK HURRICANE MATTHEW

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