Hurricane Matthew is already responsible for the deaths of more than 280 people in Haiti, and now, strengthened into a Category 4 storm, it is directing itself at Florida’s coast. President Obama has called a state of emergency in both Florida and South Carolina, and officials are urging everyone to evacuate without delay.
According to the New York Times, the hurricane’s winds have intensified to 140 miles per hour, and they are expected to accelerate.
“Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 24 hours,” the National Weather Service reported on Thursday. “Airborne debris lofted by extreme winds will be capable of breaching structures, unprotected windows, and vehicles.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are collaborating to undertake relief efforts in the affected areas. And in Florida, Governor Rick Scott has allocated 3,500 National Guard troops for aiding in evacuation and any necessary search-and-rescue missions.
“There are no excuses,” Scott told the 1.5 million evacuation zone residents. “You need to leave. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.” He then emphasized, “This storm will kill you. Time is running out.”
Florida has not seen a major hurricane reach land since 2005, and this evacuation could be their largest to date. The country has not called for such massive evacuations since Hurricane Sandy.
President Obama has also issued a general warning on Twitter:
At 5 p.m. Thursday, the eye of the hurricane hovered roughly 100 miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida. With the hurricane moving at roughly 13 miles per hour over the Bahamas, the eye is expected to hit Cape Canaveral at roughly 8 a.m. Friday morning. By 8 p.m. it should reach the Jacksonville area. But the eastern coast will likely experience violent winds by tonight.
Consult these checklists, courtesy of the Miami Herald, if you are in Hurricane Matthew’s path. And if you’re out of harm’s way, take a look at the ways you can assist in relieving all those affected in Haiti.
Stay safe, everyone.