Editor’s note: In a press conference Tuesday morning, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties. To read more, click here.
Gov. Henry McMaster has not called an evacuation order for Beaufort County as of Monday morning, but some South Carolina residents are turning to Google to answer the question, “Should I evacuate?,” according to Google trend data.
Hurricane Florence is churning 625 miles off the coast of Bermuda as of Monday morning, and it is forecast to turn northward before it makes landfall late Thursday night. McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday, which allows emergency services and the government to prepare for the storm by moving assets throughout the state.
So it might not come as a surprise that Google searches for “Should I evacuate?” have skyrocketed in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in recent days.
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The searches first began to climb on Sept. 4, and peaked Saturday as residents learned of the declaration of a state of emergency.
Another spot on the map that’s seen an increase in Google searches for that phrase? California in the peak of wildfire season.
The answer to that question draws hundreds of Hurricane Florence stories, including explanations of what mandatory evacuation orders mean and evacuation information from Ready.gov.
In the event of evacuation orders, residents should be prepared and know local routes. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office website offers resources for evacuations including an interactive map of evacuation routes.
Residents may be turning to Google because of delayed evacuations on Sept. 10, 2017 ahead of Tropical Storm Irma as compared to early evacuation orders from Former Governor Nikki Haley on Oct. 4, 2016 for Hurricane Matthew. Irma hit the Beaufort area on Sept. 11, 2017, just one day after an evacuation was ordered for Hilton Head Island and other barrier islands, while Matthew hit on Oct. 8, 2016, four days after the order.
Hurricane Florence may be days away, but some local residents are preparing to move inland and booking hotel rooms in Columbia, South Carolina; Macon, Georgia; Augusta, Georgia; and Asheville, North Carolina.
The last time the question “Should I evacuate?” spiked on Google search charts in this area was on Jan. 7, 2018, when the county was covered in a veil of snow.