Evacuees, many from FL, flood SC roads and rest areas

Evacuees, many from FL, flood SC roads and rest areas

CALHOUN COUNTY, SC (WIS) - All day Friday, I-26 through South Carolina definitely seemed busier than normal as thousands of evacuees make their way to or through the Palmetto State.

Friday afternoon, at the westbound rest area in Calhoun County near mile marker 123, some from South Carolina's Low Country stopped to rest their legs and take a break from the traffic.

"We watched it every day on the news, and, finally, the governor declared a state of emergency, and our kids kept calling us. They were worried about us, so we decided to evacuate," said Robert Schaefer, who's from Knoxville but has a timeshare on Hilton Head Island. "I-95 was anywhere from 70 miles-an-hour to zero! We stopped a lot."

However, many if not most of the evacuees WIS encountered were from Florida. Some were from Miami and the South Florida area. Others were from Central Florida – where Hurricane Irma will also be felt.

"We had an early start. We woke up at 2 o'clock in the morning, and we left at 3 trying to beat all the traffic, which didn't work," said Ian Dugger, 20, from Port Orange, Florida, a coastal city south of Daytona Beach. His family stopped to picnic at the Calhoun County rest area Friday afternoon.

Despite the tough, uncertain situation, most seemed to be in good spirits.

"Very relieved at the moment. Whatever's going to happen is going to happen, but the family's safe. We're heading our way out of danger, so definitely out of that destruction zone," said Steve Sherman from Palm Coast, Florida. "This is unbelievable. This reminds me of the movie 'The Perfect Storm.' You've got Jose backing it up. You've got the one coming out of the Gulf. I've never seen anything like this."

Sherman and his family were headed for Gatlinburg, TN. He'll be staying in a luxury cabin there and said he hopes to have a little bit of fun with his family during the next few days, which will be trying ones.

As far as traffic, everyone agreed I-95 was awful.

South Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said I-95 had about double the traffic on Friday. She estimated that about 92,000 extra vehicles are on the state's roads.

"Willie Nelson sings this song called 'On the Road Again,'" said Ron Clasky, a t-shirt salesman from Hollywood Beach, Florida. "We're singing 'Stuck in Traffic Again.'"

Clasky doesn't know what his hometown will look like when he returns.

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