Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Two dead, 1.1 million without power in Florida

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 10:03 PM
An official vehicle navigates debris as it passes along Highway A1A after it was partial washed away by Hurricane Matthew, Friday, in Flagler Beach, Fla. Hurricane Matthew spared Florida's most heavily populated stretch from a catastrophic blow Friday but threatened some of the South's most historic and picturesque cities with ruinous flooding and wind damage as it pushed its way up the coastline.
Local residents Michael & Tori Munton make their way through the flooded streets of downtown historic Saint Marys, Ga., as the storm surge from Hurricane Matthew hits, Friday.
A girl lugs buckets of drinking water after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti.
A boy removes mud and water from his house after Hurricane Matthew flooded it in Les Cayes, Haiti. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years.
A man fills his car with gas as others wait to fill containers at one of the few gas stations open after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Nassau, Bahamas, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. Matthew tore roofs away, toppled trees and caused flooding that trapped some people in their homes.
Osvaldo Neira, 57, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, bathes near the seawall in Baracoa, Cuba, Friday.
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP):

Hurricane Matthew has weakened slightly as it pounds Florida and crawls north along the Atlantic coast.

At 5 p.m. EDT Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Matthew had sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph), making it a very powerful Category 2 storm.

At one point, Matthew reached the strongest Category 5 designation, but it has been slowly weakening as it has moved closer to Florida.

Authorities have reported two people have died in the United States because of Hurricane Matthew.

The Putnam County, Florida, Sheriff's Office reported yesterday that a woman was killed and a man was injured when a tree fell on their camper during the storm. 

Earlier Friday, Volusia County emergency management director Jim Judge reported the death of a woman after a tree fell on her house.

The storm left more than 300 people were killed in the Caribbean, mostly in Haiti. 

Officials in Florida are cutting off all access to beachside portions of Flagler County after Hurricane Matthew washed away a portion of State Road A1A.

A news release says emergency workers will begin entering the area to rescue those who did not leave.

"We don't want anyone on the beachside who doesn't need to be there," Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said in the release. "We need to be able to get an assist those people who are in the most need."

More than 1.1 million people are now without power in Florida after Hurricane Matthew steadily grinded its way up the east coast.

State officials released updated totals late Friday that showed the powerful storm had knocked out electricity over a long coastal stretch of the peninsula. One of the hardest hit areas is Volusia County where nearly 258,000 customers — 92 per cent of all customers — were without power.

Several more communities on the South Carolina coast are imposing curfews as the winds and rains of Hurricane Matthew approach the state. The worse of the storm is expected to move in overnight and Matthew is expected to be just off Charleston about daybreak as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds.

President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina as Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc on the East Coast.

The declaration puts the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of disaster relief efforts in the state, including providing equipment and needed resources.

Obama has already declared states of emergency in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, the other states in Matthew's path.

About 20 organisations collecting medicine, food, clothing and building supplies for Haiti at a Miami-area warehouse suspended activity Thursday. Sandy Dorsainvil is a Haitian-American community leader in Miami. She says volunteers eager to return to work waited in long lines at the Miami Gardens warehouse early Friday.

The US military is also mobilising to help Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew's destruction.

The Navy said Friday that it's sending the Norfolk, Virginia-based USS Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock ship, towards the island where hundreds are reported dead.

The ship is loaded with 300 Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, one landing craft and three large helicopters. The Navy said they'll be able to quickly distribute relief.

Lt. Jeffrey Prunera said two other ships, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and the USS Comfort hospital ship, are awaiting further orders in the South Atlantic to possibly help as well.

The military has established Joint Task Force Matthew to oversee its relief efforts. By Friday afternoon, 170 personnel and nine helicopters had already reached the country.