Millions of people along the southeast coast of the United States found themselves in harm’s way on Friday morning as Hurricane Matthew made landfall. The Category 3 hurricane is the most powerful storm to hit the US in a decade, having first developed at sea just over a week ago before making its way northwest toward the US. Officials are now saying that more than 300 people — at least 339 at the time of this writing — were killed by the storm in Haiti alone as it tore across parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and then Cuba. Now, Matthew has made its way to the US and hundreds of thousands of people are already being slammed my excessive winds and heavy rain.
With the storm still nearly 100 miles off the southeast coast of Florida early Friday morning, winds in excess of 100 mph were already being measured in Cape Canaveral. As the sun began to rise, Governor Rick Scott said in a statement that nearly half a million Florida homes were without power.
According to The Weather Channel, Hurricane Matthew is currently on a northern track along the Florida coastline, with the eye of the storm having moved as close as 25 miles offshore in the early hours of the morning. Evacuation orders were issued in dozens of Florida towns on Thursday, but roads across coastal Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina were at a standstill early Friday morning as thousands of people head inland in an effort to remove themselves from harm’s way.
Hundreds of gas stations across Florida and Georgia are said to have run out of gas, and food purveyors have been plucked bare.
“We are just bracing and the winds are picking up,” Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said, according to Reuters. “A great number of our residents have taken heed to our warnings and we are certainly concerned about those that have not.” Energy provider Florida Power and Light said on Friday morning that a total of 451,930 homes it services have lost power thus far as a result of the storm. The company says that Matthew could ultimately leave as many as 2.5 million homes and businesses without power, some for an extended period of time.
Visit this post to learn how to track Hurricane Matthew in real time.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to batter the Florida coast all day on Friday as it makes its way up to coastal Georgia, where the massive storm is expected to arrive in the early hours on Saturday morning. The storm is expected to have weakened dramatically by then, but 45 mph winds and rainfall of between 10 and 14 inches are still being predicted.
Meanwhile, in Florida, FloridaDisaster.org has a complete list of shelters available to evacuees.