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Florida governor Rick Scott maintains that state and local officials are prepared for Hurricane Matthew, even as he called the storm bearing down on the state a “monster,” reports the Associated Press.
“Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts,” Scott says.
Scott says people in the northeast part of the state still have time to evacuate and residents could still choose to go to a shelter.
Authorities have told roughly 1.5 million people across the state to evacuate. The mass exodus led to crammed highways, full hotels and the need to open dozens of hurricane shelters. The looming storm also has led to gas shortages, though Scott said the state still has five days’ worth of fuel supplies.
Officials are expecting massive power outages across the region once Hurricane Matthew hits full-force.
Although the state has food and water supplies ready for after the storm, Scott cautioned that people need to be able to take care of themselves for the first three days.
As Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida, details are still emerging about the devastation left in the storm’s wake after it ripped through Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
The death toll in Haiti alone has reached 280, officials say, and 15,000 people have been displaced. The UN has described the hurricane as Haiti’s worst humanitarian crisis since the devastating earthquake six years ago.
The rains and flooding have prompted fears of a surge in the cholera epidemic that has killed almost 10,000 people since the disease was accidentally introduced to Haiti by UN peacekeepers. Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State university, is tweeting some interesting historical data about Hurricane Matthew.
It is, he says, “now the longest-lived major hurricane forming after September 25 in the Atlantic basin on record (6.5 days)”.
He compares the track Matthew is taking to that of 1979’s Hurricane David: Forecasters have said the major threat to the Southeast would not be the winds which newer buildings can withstand but the massive surge of seawater driven ahead of the storm that could wash over coastal communities along a 500-mile stretch from South Florida to the Charleston, South Carolina, area.
Those with long memories will remember that Hurricane Sandy, four years ago this month, hit parts of New York and New Jersey with a storm surge of as high as 13 feet, which accounted for a lot of the damage it caused.
Experts have said that Matthew’s storm surge could range from nine to as much as 12 feet in height.
Lenny Curry, the mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, just went on CNN to urge people in the evacuation zone to “get out now”.
“This is a storm like we haven’t seen,” he said.Forecasters said it would then probably hug the coast of Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend before veering out to sea perhaps even looping back toward Florida in the middle of next week as a tropical storm, according to the Associated Press.
Millions of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to evacuate their homes, and interstate highways were turned into one-way routes to speed the exodus. Florida alone accounted for about 1.5 million of those told to clear out.
“The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida,” Florida governor Rick Scott warned.
The hurricane has picked up wind speed as it closed in, growing from a possibly devastating Category 3 storm to a potentially catastrophic Category 4. Forecasters said it could dump up to 15 inches of rain in some spots and, most crucially, cause a storm surge of between 9 and twelve feet.