“If you’re in the evacuation area,” Governor Rick Scott told his fellow Floridians this morning, “get out.” Warning of the impact of Hurricane Matthew, Scott predicted that “this storm will kill you,” and emphasized his message by demanding, “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.” CNN carried the message live as many Floridians have already headed for the exits:
— CNN (@CNN) October 6, 2016
Just in case his constituents don’t get the message, the National Weather Service warned of “immense human suffering” earlier this morning in the impact zone:
— Joe Pennington (@5NEWSJoe) October 6, 2016
We already know of that danger; Hurricane Matthew has killed 23 people in Haiti already. It’s not just Florida where the danger lies. CNN reports that Georgia and South Carolina will take a direct hit from the hurricane, which will have a predicted strength of Category 4 when it makes landfall in the continental US. It might be the worst storm in almost a quarter-century:
Gov. Scott warned 1.5 million residents they had 24 hours to get ready, or better yet, get going.
A direct hit by Matthew, he said, could lead to “massive destruction” on a level unseen since Hurricane Andrew devastated the Miami area in 1992. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations in his state stretch from the Miami area all the way north to the Florida-Georgia border.
In South Carolina, a quarter-million people have already fled the coastal areas, with another 200,000 predicted to be on the move shortly. The evacuation has already begun testing nerves:
Tempers apparently flared during the slow traffic. A man got out of his truck at a point where vehicles were being redirected, removed a traffic cone and sped away. Police chased the man until he stopped on a dead-end road. The man fired at deputies and police officers, who shot back and wounded him, Berkeley County Chief Deputy Mike Cochran told CNN. The man was hospitalized, but his condition is unknown.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation changed the directions of eastbound traffic lanes to accommodate the exodus of people leaving coastal cities like Charleston.
As thousands fled inland, some people said they were staying put. In Charleston, which likely will feel Matthew’s impact this weekend, residents boarded up businesses and prepared to hunker down.
South Carolina still has a couple of days, but Florida’s almost out of time.Airports throughout the state have largely shut down operations, so the only evacuation from the eastern seaboard has to come via land, and even those paths have only hours left to them. Hurricane Matthew will make landfall at 2 am ET tomorrow morning, just 16 hours from now. Scott has already activated 2500 National Guard troops, and has another 4,000 on standby, according to the Tampa Bay Times. If the warnings of the NWS and meteorologists are accurate, Scott will need every one of those troops in the aftermath.
We hope our readers in Florida will get themselves to safe ground, and they will be in our thoughts and prayers. Let’s hope for a glancing blow and a big sigh of relief afterward.