Local authorities in the U.S. South-eastern state of Florida have issued a mandatory evacuation order for over 1.5 million coastal residents in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in almost a decade.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, at a press conference, on Friday, repeatedly pleaded with residents to take the storm seriously, urging the 1.5 million Floridians in evacuation zones to leave.
“This is serious,” Scott said during one of his briefings Thursday. “This storm will kill you. “Time is running out. We don’t have much time left.”
The U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, stated that Hurricane Matthew remained a Category 3 hurricane as of Thursday morning, with maximum sustained winds as strong as 125 mph.
There is still possibility that it would evolve into Category 4 storm in approaching the east coast of Florida, said the centre.
One day before the evacuation order in Florida was issued, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that the hurricane could have a devastating effect and urged residents in affected areas to follow local governments’ orders.
As Matthew approached, life’s normal routines across the southeastern coast gave way to the bedlam of a looming storm. Emergencies were declared, evacuations ordered, schools closed, scores of flights grounded and college football games canceled or postponed.
Meanwhile, the death toll has soared in Haiti on Thursday night after rescue crews began reaching remote corners cut off when Hurricane Matthew slammed into the country’s southwest peninsula.