Hundreds of thousands of anxious people boarded up their homes and businesses and grabbed a few belongings to flee inland as Hurricane Matthew gained strength and roared toward the Southeast seaboard on Thursday.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the state, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
As people hurried for higher ground, authorities in South Carolina said a motorist died on Wednesday after being shot by deputies during an altercation along an evacuation route.
Scott said Florida, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
About 2 million people from Florida across Georgia to South Carolina were being encouraged to head inland and away from the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade. Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it sliced through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.
“This is a dangerous storm,” Scott warned. “The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida.”
Hurricane Matthew is barreling over the Bahamas and taking aim at Florida, expected to near the Atlantic coast starting Thursday night. The Category 3 storm has top sustained winds of 125 mph. Florida hasn’t been hit by a storm this powerful in more than a decade.
Florida emergency officials said 48 shelters in schools already have begun providing refuge to more than 3,000 people, some with special needs, mostly in coastal counties where evacuations both mandatory and voluntary were underway. Patients also were transferred from two Florida waterfront hospitals and a nursing home near Daytona Beach to safer locations.
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