Hurricane Matthew Leaves 600,000 Without Power
Weather officials say the storm has missed a direct hit on Florida, remaining off the coast of the upper portion of the state. Matthew weakened to a Category 3 storm as of Friday morning, according to weather officials. But dangerous winds of 100 mph were recorded along the Florida coast.
On Friday morning, the eyewall of the storm is just a few miles from Florida’s coast, according to CNN. Those in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida should evacuate if asked and should heed other warnings.
About 600,000 people are now without power in Florida. The majority of those homes are in Martin and St. Lucie counties, Gov. Rick Scott said. “But look, we’re only halfway through,” he noted. “We’re going to have more outages.”
Florida’s governor added that it is a “blessing” that so far, Florida was avoiding a direct hit as the storm sliced northward, according to The Associated Press. Still, forecasters said it could dump up to 15 inches of rain in some spots and cause a storm surge of 9 feet or more. They said the major threat to the Southeast would not be the winds—which newer buildings can withstand—but the massive surge of seawater that could wash over coastal communities.
A woman in her 50s died in St. Lucie County from cardiac arrest overnight after emergency personnel stopped operations due to the storm.
The governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina declared states of emergency ahead of the storm earlier this week.
The center of the storm passed close to Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the morning. Winds of 100 mph were recorded around Florida’s Space Coast.
The storm didn’t follow the worst-case scenario path as predicted by meteorologists. Matthew stayed 100 miles away from South Florida, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
“This storm’s a monster,” Gov. Scott warned on Thursday. “I’m going to pray for everybody’s safety.”
Some people who refused to evacuate were stranded and called for help early Friday but were told to stay put until conditions improved enough for paramedics and firefighters to get to them, said emergency operations spokesman David Waters in Brevard County, the home of Cape Canaveral, according to The Associated Press.
“A family called in that the roof just flew off their home on Merritt Island,” Waters said.
In Jacksonville, where 500,000 people were told to evacuate, Mayor Lenny Curry warned that authorities would not be able to help them during the worst of the storm.
“You need to leave. If you do not leave you will be on your own,” Curry said.
Matthew left more than 280 people dead in its wake across the Caribbean.
The Fort Lauderdale and Orlando airports shut down, with airlines canceling more than 3,000 flights Thursday and Friday, many of them in or out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Amtrak suspended train service between Miami and New York.
Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld in Orlando were also closed down, according to reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.