MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Hurricane Matthew continues it's trek to the north, passing through Cuba and en route to the eastern United States later this week.

A scene all too familiar in the Caribbean this week; this time, Cuba looked like a demolished building in a construction zone in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Here in the U.S., the focus turns to Florida. Travelers were booking flights and filling up the gas tanks, as evacuation is set to begin Thursday morning.

"Protecting life is the number one priority right now," said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "If Matthew directly impacts Florida, there will be massive destruction that we haven't seen in years."

South Carolina's evacuations have already begun. Lane reversals on I-26 out of Charleston had traffic backed up for miles in efforts to get people out away from the ocean.

"All of the South Carolina coast is within that cone," said Governor Nikki Haley. "So it is still all subject to possible storm damage as we go forward."

Soon to follow: Myrtle Beach. Their evacuations start Thursday morning. Residents were boarding up their windows and tourists were prepping for their final day at the beach.

"We are from Germany, we came down from Chicago, we wanted to stay the last days at the beach and now there's a hurricane coming," said Gerd Wietholz. "And we leave tomorrow."

In North Carolina, some Outer Banks evacuations are under way and a State of Emergency has been in effect for 66 counties since Monday.

"If you're down at the beach areas or even inland, it's going to be some serious rain with heavy saturation," said Governor Pat McCrory. "Don't go through any flooded waters."

Boat owners in Wilmington were already getting their boats out of the marinas Wednesday morning.

"Just the price you pay for living at the beach," said Frank Smith. "But there are a lot of worse things you could have to go through."

Inland hotels have been feeling the impact of the hurricane themselves. During a press conference Thursday, South Carolina Governor Haley said that all South Carolina hotels have been booked. She encouraged those still needing a hotel to go to Charlotte.

A hotel in Fort Mill opened its doors Wednesday to 365 residents from a Hilton Head retirement community. The guests from The Cypress retirement community will receive three meals a day from the hotel's historic kitchen.