Even after Hurricane Matthew passes by South Carolina, anyone who evacuated earlier this week should not plan to go home right away.
“Do not plan on going back home today or tomorrow,” Gov. Nikki Haley said at a Saturday morning.
Haley warned that many hurricane-related deaths occur after a storm passes, because people attempt to enter unsafe areas in a rush to get back home. It will take time for law enforcement, road workers and utility crews to get to hurricane-ravaged areas.
She warned residents to avoid downed power lines and avoid closed roads.
“Now is when the frustration sets in,” she said. The governor urged evacuees to be patient.
“I know you want to see your home, I know you want to get back,” Haley said.
Access to Kiawah and Seabrook islands is cut off and cell phone service has been lost on Pawley’s Island, Haley said.
In addition, a tornado was reported in North Myrtle Beach early Saturday.
Once it is safe to return, Haley said she does not foresee a need to reverse traffic lanes on Interstate 26 to allow evacuees to return home, as happened when evacuations were first announced earlier this week.
The governor also warned against opening emails that supposedly provide information about power outages. She said this was an attempt by hackers to get into a victim’s computer.
“If you do not know the person sending you the email, delete it, don’t click,” Haley said.
Hurricane force winds left thousands without power throughout the state early Saturday morning – a total of 437,303 across the state.
The most outages Saturday morning were in Beaufort, Charleston and Richland counties.
However, Haley said no deaths directly related to the storm were immediately reported.
Haley said a seemingly unrelated inmate death occurred at Ridgeland Correctional Institution overnight.
Related stories from The State in Columbia SC
A high amount of rainfall and storm surge were seen along the coast. Parts of Interstate 95 in the lower part of the state were impassable early Saturday.
Residents as far up the coast as Georgetown have seen howling winds and soaking rains.
See the latest social media reaction to the hurricane here.
You might also be interested in these videos:
Gills Creek swelling into floodplain as heavy rains fall in Columbia due to Hurricane Matthew.
The causeway to Garden City was impassable around 11:30 a.m. Saturday as Hurricane Matthew hit the area hard.
The morning after Hurricane Matthew passed by the South Carolina coast, Mount Pleasant is left with down tree branches and some flooding.
Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling speaks on Oct. 8, 2016, after having spent the night observing at the county Emergency Operations Center and after a brief inspection of damage on Ribaut Road, talks about the storm damage left by Hurricane Matthew
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory urges North Carolinians to not let their guard down despite Hurricane Matthew being downgraded Saturday morning.
Sights of Hurricane Matthew's strength, as it makes its way through Charleston. By Cynthia Roldán
A possible tornado damaged a roof and snapped trees near 18th Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach.
Watch the full morning briefing at Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue emergency operations command center the morning of Oct. 8, 2016. It might be 2 p.m. before emergency personnel can get to Hilton Head Island because of high sustained winds. The