Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Florida governor: 'If you're able to, leave now'

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2016 | 11:28 AM
Patrons wait in line for gas at the Costco store in Altamonte Springs, Florida as central Floridians prepare for the anticipated strike of Hurricane Matthew, on Wednesday.

People boarded up beach homes, schools closed and officials ordered evacuations along the US East Coast on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew tore through the Bahamas and took aim at Florida, where the governor urged coastal residents to "leave now" if they were able.

Matthew was a dangerous and life-threatening Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 mph, and it was expected to be very near Florida's Atlantic coast by Thursday evening. At least 11 deaths in the Caribbean have been blamed on the storm.

In South Carolina, traffic was bumper-to-bumper as people fled on Interstate 26, the main artery out of Charleston. Gasolene was hard to come by, with at least half a dozen stations along the coast out of fuel and long lines at others.

IN PHOTO: Gas pumps are empty at a Shell gas station after customers filled their gas tanks in advance of Hurricane Matthew in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

"We're staying because we have to board the house up," Buff Schwab said as she wheeled in a cooler filled with food she purchased the night before at a local supermarket.

Storm shutters were closed on a number of palatial homes overlooking Charleston's Civil War-era Battery along the water. Carriage tours made their way down streets that were largely empty of traffic.

"I'm worried. I've gotten a lot of calls to go home," Schwab said of her relatives in North Carolina. "It is what it is and we're going to sit it out and put a lot of food in the crock pot."

In Florida, theme parks watched the storm closely and told customers to anticipate altered hours. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations were to take place Wednesday in the central part of the state.

"If you're able to go early, leave now," Governor Rick Scott said.