Exodus - Evacuations begin in US as Matthew nears - At least 25 killed across the Caribbean
AS THE deadly Hurricane Matthew carves a trail of destruction across the Caribbean, killing at least 25 persons (21 of them in Haiti), residents of the United States (US) are hastily making preparations as it heads their way. The deadly storm could make landfall tomorrow morning on Florida's east coast, meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
"I cannot emphasise enough that everyone in our state must prepare now for a direct hit," Florida Governor Rick Scott said yesterday.
"That means people have less than 24 hours to prepare, evacuate, and shelter. Having a plan in place could mean the difference between life and death."
Cuba and Haiti took a major battering from Hurricane Matthew as rescue workers struggled to reach cut-off towns and learn the full extent of the death and destruction caused by the storm, even as it began battering The Bahamas yesterday. Key bridges have been washed out, roads are impassable, and phone communications are down.
Now, the US is bracing for its wrath. At least a half-million people along the lower East Coast have been urged to evacuate their homes.
Forecasters have predicted that Matthew will be a Category Four hurricane as it lashes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina sometime between this evening and Saturday.
As of yesterday afternoon, Matthew hurled 120mph (195kph) winds as it barrelled towards The Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said. The hurricane was about 70 miles (115 kilometres) south of Long Island, Bahamas, and was moving northwest at 12mph.
MASSIVE DESTRUCTION PREDICTED
President Barack Obama warned Americans in the storm's path to pay attention and take any evacuation orders seriously. He said if the core of the storm strikes Florida, it could have a "devastating effect".
Scott declared a state of emergency for the entire state. He warned that a direct hit by Matthew could lead to "massive destruction" on a level unseen since Hurricane Andrew devastated the Miami area in 1992.
Brevard County commissioners ordered one of the state's first mandatory evacuations for residents of Merritt Island and other barrier islands. Residents were ordered to start leaving at 3 p.m. yesterday.
Palm Beach residents have already cleared many grocery store shelves ahead of the storm. Reports out of Juniper, Florida, were that people were pushing and shoving their way through the local Home Depot to buy supplies.