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CNN Today

South Carolina Revises Coastal Evacuation Plan

Aired August 11, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Alberto continues to churn through the Atlantic Ocean. It was last reported 345 miles southeast of Bermuda. Forecasters believe it will dissipate without reaching land, but Alberto is only the first hurricane of the season, which runs until November.

CNN's Brian Cabell now reports South Carolina has prepared for the season by revising its coastal evacuation plan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last September, as Hurricane Floyd approached, I-26 from Charleston to Columbia, South Carolina, became a virtual parking lot. The drive, which normally takes about 90 minutes, took between 10 and 20 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried to escape, as everybody -- all the Charlestonians did also. We didn't accomplish anything. We just stayed on the highway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took me about four hours to get to one destination, 2 miles. Took me about four hours. I said, hell with it.

CABELL: More than 3 million residents from Florida to the Carolinas fled the coast because Floyd was a huge and threatening hurricane. On some highways, such as I-16 in Georgia, eastbound lanes were reversed to speed up the exodus. But South Carolina did not reverse the lanes on I-26. Big mistake.

This year, state officials say it'll be much different for coastal residents if a hurricane approaches. Lanes will be reversed.

HOWARD CHAPMAN, CHARLESTON TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: They have actually practiced it twice together with South Carolina DOT. They will have extra Port-O-Lets available at the rest areas as well. They've also distributed maps of alternate routes.

CABELL: The maps show motorists that I-26 isn't the only way to escape. There are other, smaller roads that may actually be quicker.

Other Southeastern states have taken similar steps to educate their residents. But some officials fear residents, dismayed by last year's experience, will ignore evacuation orders this year. LINDA TAYLOR, TOWN MANAGER, SULLIVAN'S ISLAND: I do think for areas that are not threatened by storm surge, that may have only wind to be concerned about, that, yes, that might factor into their decision.

CABELL: Some residents here confirm that. They say they'll stay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've talked to friends that say they will never leave again, no matter what.

CABELL: That's not what officials want to hear, especially in the Charleston area, which was devastated just 11 years ago by Hurricane Hugo.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Charleston.

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