Cayce, SC (Paul Kirby) – After Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina in 1989, we had some obvious shortcomings we as a state saw in responding to these types of disasters. In some cases, the plans we had in place really just didn’t work at all. One of those that really flopped was the orderly evacuation of the coast; It really wasn’t orderly at all. As is often the case, out of failure comes great strides.
Now, when a hurricane is approaching our coast, the process of reversing major interstates has been practiced so much, it’s almost a science. Once the governor gives the order and sets the time of the reversal, state troopers, others in law enforcement, and all types of state and local employees come together to make this happen. It takes roughly six-hours to get the lanes reversed completely and for the SCHP’s “Flush Cars” to lead the first motorist from the coast heading west in the eastbound lanes.
One key point rest in eastern Lexington County. The process begins with the detouring of eastbound traffic at Airport Boulevard while the first part of the diversion is set up at the I-26 – I-77 interchange. This happened at approximately 7 a.m. on Tuesday. From there, troopers and others work east until all lanes heading toward the coast are completely cleared. Then, at the appropriate time, three marked state trooper’s cars flush the lanes to make sure no one slipped through. They are followed by travelers leaving the coast headed west toward safety. Once again, at the I-26 – I-77 interchange, travelers can decide to continue west toward Greenville / Spartanburg or north toward Charlotte. People travelling east at this point must decide if they will get off onto Hwy. 321 south and use a smaller highway to head east or bear north on I-77 too.
Watch this short video shot by the SCHP of the Flush Cars as the first reversed traffic came through just after 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It really is interesting to see.