Many coastal residents head to Charlotte area amid evacuations

Some residents on the southeast coast under mandatory evacuations are coming inland to the Charlotte area to stay in hotels or with family and friends.

Melissa Ochal tells FOX 46 that she and her family left Charleston to come to Charlotte with their dogs. She had to explain to her young son why they were leaving home. 

“Now he's old enough to sort of know what's happening so we've got him a book called ‘The Big Storm,” Ochal said. “We've told him there may be a big storm we hope not, but just in case we're going to Aunt Kim’s house to be safe.”  

Although Owen is only two and a half years old, this isn’t the first time he's had to evacuate for a hurricane. 

“When I was pregnant we evacuated and then every year since then,” said Ochal. 

Evacuations are part of life on the coast, and Hurricane Dorian is no exception. 

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered all residents who live along the coast to leave before the hurricane that pummeled the Bahamas hits the Carolinas. 

“It's good to be safe, but it's weird that we're not there to see what's really happening,” Ochal said. 

She has friends who plan to stay in Charleston. She says they'll keep an eye on her house, but it's a bit nerve-wracking to be away. 

“It's a little weird to be in the eye of the storm and then leave it and then be watching your city on the news.” 

More than 800,000 South Carolina residents have been told to evacuate. 

Tim Dorrill and his dogs evacuated from Beaufort, SC and his job at the Marine Corps air station. They're on their way to stay with family in Gastonia during the hurricane. 

“It gets tough, but living on the coast you get used to it you do what you got to do,” said Dorrill. 

Ochal doesn't know what their house will look like when they return. For now, she's just focusing on the fact that they're safe and they're all together. 

“Hopefully we'll all be fine and our house will be just fine when we get back.” 

Sue Keenan and her family know just how to handle being away from their home while a hurricane is hitting. 

“We've got seven grandkids and they've coined the term ‘hurrication.’ Instead of vacation, it's ‘hurrication,’” she said. “We relax and get away from the hurricane.”  

The family left their home near Jacksonville, FL to visit other family members in Charlotte. They plan to stay while Hurricane Dorian makes her way northward. 

“We go to the pool and we visit cousins and we got to museums there's a lot of nice museums here,” Keenan said. 

The weakened hurricane is expected to skirt the coasts of Florida and the Carolinas, but the heavy rain and high wind could still cause serious damage to coastal areas.

Several Hurricane watches and warnings have been issued as Dorian moves slowly over the Atlantic Ocean, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for inland areas of the Carolinas along the I-95 corridor.