(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) — Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti Tuesday morning, lashing the western shores of the country with 145 mph winds and causing thousands of Haitians to seek emergency shelter.
The hurricane has weakened a little since and as of Tuesday at 5 p.m. has maximum sustained winds near 140 miles per hour and is moving north at around 9 miles per hour.
Forecasters predict it could reach the United States and brush Florida by Thursday morning.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency Tuesday and began medical evacuations for residents living along the coast.
Haley said that all coastal communities in South Carolina — about 1.1 million people — will be asked to evacuate tomorrow.
Schools and government offices will be closed tomorrow in South Carolina, and Haley recommended that residents move at least 100 miles from the coast.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that the storm “could bring devastation to Florida [that] we haven’t seen in years,” adding that “we can not rule out a direct hit on Florida” starting as early as Wednesday. He declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm.
He said that the effects of Matthew could be “catastrophic,” bringing with it a chance of heavy rain, rip currents, beach erosion, tornadoes and hurricane-force winds.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for 13 counties in his state this afternoon in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew.
Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that there are no plans to evacuate the city yet but residents should brace themselves for the possibility of danger.
“The message is simple,” he told reporters. “You should be prepared.”
Hurricane Matthew is life threatening and approaching Florida. Make sure to prepare https://t.co/ePtCVx0AU9
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) October 3, 2016
In Haiti, some 6,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters, the country’s civil protection service said on Twitter. Many more remained in flood-prone areas.
— Pwoteksyon sivil (@Pwoteksyonsivil) October 3, 2016
“Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in southern and northwestern Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba,” the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
Some 10.6 million people are in the storm’s path in Haiti, according to the United Nations, in addition to 11.2 million in Cuba and 2.8 million in Jamaica.
Citing “life-threatening rains, winds and storm surges,” USAID released $400,000 in initial assistance to mount a humanitarian response to the storm.
— USAID (@USAID) October 4, 2016
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in his state in anticipation of Matthew’s arrival Thursday night. He said he has been in contact with FEMA to prepare for the storm.
“I’m hoping this is a false alarm, but we can’t gamble,” McCrory said.
A FEMA representative said the storm is being monitored very closely, adding that the agency is in touch with officials in potentially affected states.
“It’s too soon to know what impact, if any it, will have on the U.S., but we’re urging individuals to take advantage of the time they have right now to prepare,” the representative said.
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