Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Exodus - Evacuations begin in US as Matthew nears - At least 25 killed across the Caribbean

Published:Thursday | October 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A man who broke his arm in a work-related accident before Hurricane Matthew struck, searches for belongings in what remains of his destroyed home in Baracoa, Cuba, yesterday. The hurricane rolled across the sparsely populated tip of Cuba overnight, destroying dozens of homes in Cuba's easternmost city, Baracoa, leaving hundreds of others damaged.
A couple embrace in the remains of their home that was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, yesterday.
Analyze Laguerre begins the task of putting her house in order after it was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Grand Goave, Haiti, yesterday.
President Barack Obama speaks after getting a briefing on Hurricane Matthew during a visit to FEMA headquarters in Washington, yesterday. From left are Lt General Todd T. Semonite, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, US Army Corps of Engineers, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco.
People recover their belongings as water cascades from upper floors, left over from heavy rains brought by Hurricane Matthew, in Baracoa, Cuba, yesterday
Shoppers crowd the entrance as they wait for the Costco store in Altamonte Springs, Florida, to open as central Floridians stock up on supplies ahead of the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Matthew yesterday
Anthony Lee sells phone cards and newspapers carrying a headline that calls for residents to move to higher ground, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Nassau, Bahamas, yesterday.
Residents fill sandbags at the Bees Ferry fire station in Charleston, South Carolina, yesterday to prepare for possible flooding from Hurricane Matthew.
People in vehicles make an evacuation route over a Florida State Road 520 bridge heading west from Merritt Island, Florida, yesterday as Hurricane Matthew approaches.
Kayja Algreen sits with her three-month-old child, Nathan Marsh, and watches over Demarchio Smith, Adonis Smith, and Alrica Algreen as they wait inside a shelter set up for residents at a church ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Nassau, Bahamas, yesterday.

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.




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.