Florida braces for Matthew
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Leaving more than 100 dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew steamed towards heavily populated Florida with terrifying winds of 140 mph Thursday, and two million people across the Southeast were warned to flee inland.
It was the most powerful storm to threaten the US Atlantic coast in more than a decade.
"The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida," Governor Rick Scott said as the skies began darkening from Matthew's outer bands of rain.
Matthew was expected to scrape nearly the entire length of Florida's Atlantic coast beginning Thursday evening. From there, forecasters said it would most likely push along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina before veering out to sea — perhaps even looping back towards Florida in the middle of next week as a tropical storm.
Millions of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to evacuate their homes, and interstate highways were turned into one-way routes to speed the exodus. Florida alone accounted for roughly 1.5 million people.
Many boarded up their homes and businesses and left them to the mercy of the storm.
"We're not going to take any chances on this one," said Daniel Myras, who struggled to find enough plywood to protect his restaurant, the Cruisin Cafe, two blocks from the Daytona Beach boardwalk.
He added: "A lot of people here, they laugh, and say they've been through storms before and they're not worried. But I think this is the one that's going to give us a wake-up call."