I-95 fills with northbound storm traffic


It's not often you hear motorists on Interstate 95 saying they are glad to have crossed the Georgia state line into the Palmetto State, but several people who stopped Friday at the northbound rest area near Shiloh said traffic eased somewhat when they entered South Carolina.

Mary Coffey said traffic was bad.

"Horrendous," she said.

She said she began to see breaks in the traffic only when she reached South Carolina.

Coffey said she left Daytona Beach to flee Hurricane Irma on Thursday to travel to her brother's house in Richmond, Virginia.

"Everyone is scared to death," she said of the mood in Daytona Beach. "It's headed right toward us."

Coffey said she has lived in a mobile home park in Daytona Beach for 15 years and has been through four hurricanes.

"Three in a house and one in a mobile home - that was a little scary," she said. "That's why I said this time that I can't do it; I've got to get out."

Jim Cash said he and his wife, Diane, left Sun City, South Carolina, to stay in Virginia Beach with her daughter.

"The governor said he will order an evacuation [Saturday], and we just left a day early," he said. "It's been really bad traffic."

Many of the motorists at the rest stop said they were going to stay with relatives farther north.

A lot were elderly.

Dale Sankey was at the rest area helping a young man jump the battery on his car.

Sankey, from Ruskin, Florida, said it took him 14 hours to drive from Ruskin to the South Carolina state line, about 350 miles.

He called traffic "stop and go."

"Traffic will ease up and you will be doing 80 mph, and then suddenly it will stop dead," he said.

Walter Boone, a supervisor at the rest stop, said it has been busy since Thursday, but there have been no problems.

"We'll handle it," he said.

Staff Sgt. David Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said there have been no major tie ups as of early Friday afternoon.

"Traffic is extremely heavy, especially with people coming from Florida," Jones said.

Jones said he hopes South Carolinians will embrace them.

"Patience is going to be key," he said. "They are leaving their lives behind."

Jones warned that any evacuation orders in South Carolina would make traffic even worse, but he said the Highway Patrol is prepared.

"We are fully staffed, and we are ready," he said.