Florence officials continue to watch Matthew’s track

As Matthew approaches, emergency management officials in the Pee Dee are keeping a close eye on the storm's track.

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – As Matthew approaches, emergency management officials in the Pee Dee are keeping a close eye on the storm’s track.

Gov. Nikki Haley summed up the past few days for state emergency officials as “a roller coaster of emotions.” Though the current forecast keep’s Matthew’s hurricane-force winds well out of the Pee Dee, Florence County Emergency Management officials said that is no reason to let your guard down.

“It’s absolutely important not to take anything for granted,”

It may seem like a cliche, but Florence County Emergency Management Director Dusty Owens said that was his advice when it comes to watching Hurricane Matthew approach our state.

“Every forecast update the track has shifted somewhat,” said Owens. He reminds those here in the Pee Dee that while the track seems to have Matthew tracking away from the area,

“That track can always change,” Owens said. “We encourage people to continue to monitor the storm and take appropriate action.”

Owens said just because the storm is passing far away doesn’t mean the Pee Dee won’t see the effects of Hurricane Matthew.

“Rainfall induced flooding is a possibility, wind damage caused by falling trees, or wind damage just caused by itself is a possibility,” Owens explained. “So we need to be prepared for those kinds of things.”

He said now is the time to get your emergency supplies together. Water, flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, and non-perishable food are always good to have on hand.

“Be prepared for power outages,” warned Owens. “Be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours if necessary.”

Because Florence is an inland county, the Emergency Management Department’s main job is to get shelters ready for evacuating neighbors in Horry and Georgetown counties.

“If the order to evacuate is issued, Florence County will open five evacuation shelters,” Owens said. “Those shelters are opened to house people are forced to leave the evacuated areas.”

Owens said after the shelters are open, though, anyone who needs a place to ride out the storm will be welcome.

If you have family or friends with pets coming from the beach area, Florence County Emergency Management keeps a list of pet-friendly hotels and shelters. You can find more information here.