Charleston Is a Ghost Town Ahead of Hurricane Matthew

A reporter tours the streets of Charleston before Hurricane Matthew hits.

— -- The air has shifted here in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Today, it feels as if you’re taking a stroll in a soup can, and the only ones out are the locals. I meet one man on his way to fix up his business in a last-minute effort to prepare for the Category 3 storm. He says he was in a hurricane once before, in Cape Cod, and is most afraid of the wind. I meet two more people who were walking a dog near the water. They are planning to ride out the storm in the hotel they work in. They, too, are apprehensive, especially with the danger of flooding, but are insistent on staying. Their lives are here, so there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

This is my first time to Charleston. The charm is evident in the old-time architecture of the buildings and the friendliness of those still in town. But it’s overshadowed by a feeling of nervous anticipation. As I write this in my hotel lobby, the bell man is doing a puzzle while another employee at the registration desk paces back and forth. Everyone knows of the devastation Hurricane Matthew wrought on Haiti and Cuba and they’ve seen their town flood many times before. Now, it's this Southern shrine's turn later this evening. It’s just a waiting game.