What We Know So Far
- Hurricane Matthew slammed the Southeastern US coast with high winds, flooding rains and powerful storm surge, leaving at least 36 people dead.
- The storm dumped more than a foot of rain on North Carolina, flooding homes and businesses as far as 100 miles inland.
- President Obama has declared a state of disaster in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts.
- The storm made landfall in Haiti days earlier, becoming the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the country since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. At least 500 deaths have been blamed on the storm in Haiti.
- Matthew was briefly a Category 5 storm, becoming the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean since 2007.
Death toll in North Carolina rises to 20, governor says
Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday the death toll in North Carolina from Hurricane Matthew has risen to 20.
The governor said the latest death was occurred in Lenoir County, without providing additional details.
"We've had too many deaths. Get out!," he said, referring to flooded areas. "Once that water flows it's too late."
The latest death raises the overall US toll to 36.
Two more deaths reported in North Carolina, bringing state total to 19
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday morning that there have now been 19 deaths related to Hurricane Matthew in the state, two more than he reported Tuesday evening.
The governor said that both deaths took place in Wayne County. One individual drowned in a vehicle; another was the recovered body of a 51-year-old man who had previously gone missing, according to a local ABC affiliate.
McCrory added that water continues to rise in some communities. The Neuse River in Kinston is expected to reach record-level high crests on Saturday, he said, and the Tar River in Tarboro is expected to peak today.
Death toll from Hurricane Matthew in US rises to 34 people
The US death toll from Hurricane Matthew continued to rise Tuesday, with officials confirming that 34 people died from the storm that brought high winds, powerful storm surge, and catastrophic flooding to the Southeast.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced at a news conference that 17 people had died in his state as of Tuesday. Some of the victims were trapped after trying to drive into high water.
"If we say the water's coming and we 'say do not drive through that water,' we mean it," McCrory said.
The governor said some rivers in North Carolina would continue rising for days.
In Florida, officials attributed nine deaths to Hurricane Matthew, Lauren Schenone, a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Scott, told BuzzFeed News Tuesday.
In South Carolina, the storm killed three people, according to Columbia-based The State.
At least four people were dead in Georgia as well, the Journal-Constitution reported.
— Jim Dalrymple II
North Carolina state trooper shoots man who brandished a handgun during rescue efforts
A North Carolina state trooper shot and killed a man who brandished a gun while police worked to rescue people from flood waters.
The shooting happened Monday night in the city of Lumberton, the Charlotte Observer reported. North Carolina Sgt. J.F. Hinson and two Robeson County sheriff's deputies reportedly were rescuing people when a man became hostile then displayed a handgun. During the altercation, Hinson fatally shot the man.
The name of the man had not been released. According to WTVD, Hinson has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
The altercation is the second fatal police shooting related to Hurricane Matthew. On Wednesday, Lucas Felkel fled a police checkpoint then opened fire on the deputies who pursued him. Deputies fired back and wounded Felkel. He later died at an area hospital.
— Jim Dalrymple II
President Obama declares disaster in South Carolina
Obama's declaration means South Carolina will have access to federal aid and funding as it struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The state was still grappling with flooding and other damage Tuesday from the storm that killed dozens of people across the Southeast.
— Jim Dalrymple II
Death toll in Haiti rises to more than 500
At least 500 people have died in Haiti following the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew, and the toll is expected to rise.
Haitian authorities have yet to sum up the extent of the disaster because some communities are still cut off. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed by the storm, the Associated Press reported.
Guillaume Silvera, a senior official with the Civil Protection Agency, said at least 522 deaths were confirmed in the Grand-Anse area alone.
Meanwhile, National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince said Saturday the official death toll for the whole country was 336, which included 191 deaths in Grand-Anse.
Government officials estimate that at least 350,000 people need assistance, and there is growing concern over an increase in cholera cases following widespread flooding. An ongoing cholera outbreak has killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010.
— Alicia Melville-Smith
Life-threatening flooding continues in US after Hurricane Matthew
The US death toll related to Hurricane Matthew — which was downgraded to a post-tropical storm — continued to climb Sunday, with at least 22 people reported dead across four states.
In North Carolina, at least nine people were killed in vehicles on waterlogged roads, the governor's office said. Flooding was expected to continue for several days, and Gov. Pat McCrory urged residents to heed evacuation orders.
"Please be smart, stay off the roads and be safe," McCrory said in a statement.
Swift-water rescue were deployed, particularly in the eastern part of the state, where record-breaking rains had swelled rivers.
In Florida, at least six people had been killed in the storm, the Associated Press reported. At least four people were killed in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Three people were killed in South Carolina after being swept away by flooding or driving into washed-out bridges, the Greenville News reported.
Hurricane Matthew's US death toll climbs to at least 15
Hurricane Matthew, which has been downgraded to a post-tropical storm, has left at least 15 people dead in the US, with over half of those fatalities from North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.
Four deaths were reported in Florida, and three occurred in Georgia.
"As the sun rises in North Carolina and the blue sky returns, our state is facing major destruction and, sadly, loss of life," Gov. Pat McCrory said on Sunday.
McCory asked for federal help in a press conference Sunday, adding that more than 800 rescue operations had already occurred.
"The storm is not over for North Carolina," McCrory said, with the state still facing widespread flooding.
— Talal Ansari
Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone
Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still causing flooding in North Carolina.
The storm dumped more than a foot of rain on the state overnight flooding homes and businesses as far as 100 miles inland.
The US National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. Sunday update that the center of the storm was about 30 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and had sustained winds of about 75 mph (120 kpm).
The NHC said tropical storm conditions would continue in the area throughout Sunday morning and then subside by the afternoon. More flooding as a result of storm surges and heavy rain is expected.
Five deaths announced in North Carolina and Georgia
Officials from North Carolina and Georgia announced that three and two people, respectively, have died in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. A total of nine people have died in the US since the storm hit.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory tweeted that three fatalities have been recorded. He later said during a press conference that one person in Bladen County was killed when their car hydroplaned. The other two people, from Sampson County, died in a flooded vehicle.
In Georgia, a deputy coroner confirmed to Associated Press that two people had died in the hurricane. The details of those deaths have not yet been released.
Here is a gif of Hurricane Matthew making landfall in South Carolina
Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in South Carolina
Hurricane Matthew has touched down in South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced Saturday morning.
According to a memo, the center noted that "the center of Matthew will continue to move near or over the coast of South Carolina today, and be near the coast of southern North Carolina by tonight."
Although the hurricane is expected to weaken, it is still "is expected to remain near hurricane strength while the center is near the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina."
The center's advisory also noted that storm surges, rainfall, and tornadoes could all result from the hurricane.
According to the NHC, storm surges reaching heights of 7 ft could occur anywhere between Charleston, South Carolina, and Cape Fear, North Carolina.
It added that a "couple of tornadoes are possible through early tonight along the coast of North Carolina."
The center later tweeted that strong winds will continue to move towards the back of the circulation.
Haiti civil protections official: more than 470 dead in one region alone, toll expected to rise
Officials in Haiti continue to assess the death count after Hurricane Matthew tore through the country on Tuesday, but remain certain that it will climb.
Haitian civil protection official Fridnel Kedler told the Associated Press that 470 people have died in the nation's southwestern region alone since the then-Category 4 hurricane struck. He added that the number is likely to rise.
Other reports, based on independent tallies, estimate that as many as 900 people have died in Haiti since Hurricane Matthew made landfall.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known by its English name Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement that it had deployed four teams to five different regions of Haiti to assist with the damage.
"People are beginning to arrive at local hospitals, many with injuries to their feet and legs that are starting to become infected," the statement read.
"The MSF team provided first aid to wounded hurricane survivors and donated medical supplies to treat wounds at the General Hospital of Les Cayes. The hospital is expecting to see a rise in the number of patients in the coming days."
Strong winds and flooding continue to batter North and South Carolina
Despite Hurricane Matthew having been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, it continues to leave strong winds and flooding in its path through North and South Carolina, according to a 10 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
The center measured a gust of wind traveling 70 mph in Folly Beach Pier, South Carolina, and an official in Charleston recorded another at 55 mph within the past hour.
In North Carolina, two gusts at 52 mph and 49 mph were reported in Darlington, South Carolina, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, respectively.
Hurricane Matthew downgraded to Category 1 storm as it travels through South Carolina.
Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, according to latest updates from the National Hurricane Centre.
"Reports from the reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts," the center said in a statement.
"Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane while the center is near the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina."
A hurricane warning in effect for North of Altamaha Sound to Surf City, a hurricane watch is in effect for North of Surf City to Cape Lookout, and a tropical storm warning is in place in North of Surf City to Duck, and Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds. — Alicia Melville-Smith
Hurricane Matthew making itself felt in South Carolina.
After a damaging day and night in Florida, Hurricane Matthew is now moving into South Carolina.
Hurricane-force winds are moving onshore at Hilton Head and Pritchards Island, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center reported. At least one wind gust of 61 mph (98 kph) was recorded at Beaufort, South Carolina.
Matthew remains a Category 2 hurricane and is moving north off the coast, centered about 30 miles (130 km) south-southwest of Hilton Head. In a localized statement, the NHC said: "The centre of the Category 2 hurricane should be along/near the Charleston County Coast around 8 a.m. Saturday ... then is expected to move northeast to a position off the southeast North Carolina coast by Saturday evening."
— Alicia Melville-Smith
Two more storm-related deaths in Florida bring toll to 4
An elderly couple died Friday morning in St. Lucie County, Florida, after running a generator inside their garage during Hurricane Matthew, fire officials said.
The St. Lucie County Fire District received a call at 7:39 a.m. that a husband and wife in their early 90s had been found unconscious inside their home by neighbors.
The couple had been running a generator inside their garage throughout the storm, fire officials said. Both were transported to a hospital in critical condition and later died.
"This is a tragic reminder not to run generators inside the home, garage, or under soffits," the fire district said on its Facebook page. "Place generators as far away as possible from the home due to dangers caused by carbon monoxide."
Second death reported in Florida from Hurricane Matthew
A woman was killed Friday near Crescent City, Florida, when a tree fell on her trailer as Hurricane Matthew moved through the region.
"Upon arrival, deputies discovered that two adults were attempting to ride out the storm in the trailer when the tree fell due to high winds," the Putnam County, Florida, Sheriff's Office said. A man also inside the trailer was able to escape with minor injuries.
Earlier Friday, officials reported a woman was killed in Volucia County when a tree fell on her as she was feeding her animals.
Florida governor says progress is being made in restoring infrastructure
Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave a cautious, if not upbeat, assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew as of Friday evening.
More than 1 million homes remained without power, but utility crews had restored service to 400,000 others as they moved through neighborhoods and followed the storm north.
Meanwhile, officials were busy assessing road and bridges, many of which had been cleared for use, he said.
Still, cautioned the state to remain vigilant against remaining dangers, particularly standing water and downed power lines, as the hurricane moved up the coast toward Georgia and South Carolina.
"There's no victory lap," Scott said.
First storm-related death reported in Florida as Matthew rakes Atlantic coast
Florida officials reported the first death Friday from Hurricane Matthew.
Officials say a woman was killed in Volucia County when a tree fell on her while she was feeding her animals.
The woman was transported to a hospital where she later died.
Matthew weakens to Category 2 storm off northern Florida coast
Hurricane Matthew weakened Friday afternoon to a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds.
As of 5 p.m. ET, Matthew was located 40 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. The storm was moving north at 12 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles, the National Hurricane Center said.
Matthew is expected to continue moving near or over the coast of northeast Florida and Georgia tonight, and near or over the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, forecasters said.
More than 1 million without power as Matthew pounds Florida
More than 1 million people were without power Friday afternoon as Hurricane Matthew scraped Florida's Atlantic coast with powerful winds and flooding rains.
Florida Power and Light reported hundreds of thousands of customers were without power in the central counties of Brevard and Volusia.
As of 4 pm ET, Matthew was packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. The storm was located 35 miles east of St. Augustine, Florida. —Jon Passantino
Here's the National Hurricane Center's projections as of 11 am local time:
Hillary Clinton just issued this statement on the hurricane:
This is a serious storm, and it has already caused serious damage. If you get an evacuation order, please follow it immediately. Bring any important documents, medicines, and your pets with you. Listen carefully to instructions from local and national officials. And if you're not sure what to do, please visit ready.gov for tips on staying safe.
And to the people of Florida and the Southeast, and everyone in the eye of the storm: Stay safe, and know that America is with you. In times of disaster, we pull together. We'll have your back every step of the way – today, and in the weeks and months to come.
These government "hurricane hunters" flew right into the eye of the storm:
Obama urges residents to heed to state and local officials for hurricane updates
President Obama on Friday urged residents in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina to continue listening to their state and local officials for updates on Hurricane Matthew safety procedures, and underscored the importance of evacuating high-risk areas.
He said that while much of the current attention has been on Florida, Georgia should still be paying attention.
"There's a large population size there that could be vulnerable," he said. "The storm surge can move very quickly."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been working to restore and provide resources like food and water, Obama said, and will continue to move those assets further north as the hurricane continues.
He reemphasized the importance of listening to authorities on the ground for instructions.
"Pay attention to them. Do what they say. Do not be a holdout," he said. "We can always replace property, but we cannot replace lives."
The president also commented on Haiti, which has been severely impacted by the hurricane; at least 283 people have died.
"I would ask all Americans to go to the American Red Cross and other philanthropic agencies to make sure we're doing what we need to do to help those in need," he said.
Director of National Hurricane Center urges Georgia and South Carolina residents to evacuate
Satellite imagery shows Matthew "hugging" the Florida coastline
Videos show Matthew ripping off a roof in the Bahamas...
...and the storm passing by Cocoa Beach on Florida's coast...
...and the impact on power lines in Merritt Island, Florida.
Florida governor's biggest concern is storm surging in the middle of the state
Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a "Good Morning America" interview Friday morning that his biggest concern during Hurricane Matthew was the storm surges it would bring to the middle of the state, which could cause intense flooding in its aftermath.
"We've been blessed that we haven't had a direct hit. But as you know, just the hurricane force winds, we're gonna see a lot of storm surge," he said, adding that residents in the Jacksonville area still had about an hour to evacuate.
"Our concern there is we're gonna have up to 12 feet of storm surge, plus waves on top of that," he said. "It's not just gonna impact the coast. It's gonna impact some rivers."
Scott said another concern has always been whether or not people have been taking the warning seriously and evacuating their homes. More than 22,000 people are currently in shelters. Approximately 400,000 across the state are without power.
He also said that Florida will not extend its voter registration deadlines the way South Carolina has because of the storm.
"We've had plenty of time to register," Scott said. "I'm focused on saving everybody's life. The biggest thing for me is that I want everybody to survive this."
Director of National Hurricane Center tweets last minute plea for Florida residents to evacuate.
Storm surge warnings in place along eastern coasts of Florida and North Carolina
Although Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to category 3 storm, surges can still have catastrophic consequences even if winds have weakened, and surge warnings and watches are in place along the eastern coasts of Florida and North Carolina.
— Francis Whittaker
Winds and rain lash Florida coast as eyewall of Hurricane Matthew reaches Cape Canaveral
Heavy, lashing rain pounded Florida early Friday morning as hurricane-level winds "brushed" Cape Canaveral, according to an early-morning bulletin by the National Hurricane Centre.
A 7 a.m. ET bulletin from the National Hurricane Center said: "During the past hour, a wind gust of 107 mph (170 km/h) occurred on the tip of Cape Canaveral."
People in Florida have posted a number of video clips of the extreme weather or social media.
— Francis Whittaker
Conflicting reports over Haiti death toll as some accounts say hurricane may have killed more than 300
The full extent of the impact of Hurricane Matthew on impoverished Haiti is still yet to become clear amid conflicting reports surrounding the death toll in the nation.
A spokesman for Haiti's interior ministry had earlier told the AP 284 people had died, although other officials disputed this figure.
Speaking to AFP, southern Haitian Senator Herve Fourcand said at least 300 people had died. Meanwhile, a running estimate by Reuters based on the accounts given by various regional local civil protection officials put the figure at 339.
— Francis Whittaker
"Extremely dangerous" Hurricane Matthew downgraded to Category 3 storm
The National Hurricane Center announced Hurricane Matthew had weakened to a Category 3 storm in a bulletin issued at 2 a.m. ET Friday.
Despite the downgrade, the NHC said the hurricane remained "extremely dangerous" as the eye of the storm moved closer to the east coast of Florida.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 km/ph, and hurricane and tropical storm warnings are in place throughout much of the state.
— Francis Whittaker
President Obama declares emergency in Georgia as Hurricane Matthew approaches
President Obama declared an emergency in Georgia late Thursday night as Hurricane Matthew continued to threaten the southeastern seaboard.
Obama's declaration makes federal funding and other resources available to Georgia. It also follows similar declarations in Florida and South Carolina. Governors in those states, as well as in North Carolina, have declared emergencies as well.
— Jim Dalrymple II
Haitian death toll from Hurricane Matthew rises to 283 people
Haiti's interior ministry said late Thursday that the death toll from Hurricane Matthew had climbed to 283 people, the Associated Press reported.
The numbers are the latest in a steadily increasing death toll after the hurricane walloped the island nation Tuesday. Officials also said the death toll was likely to rise even more.
"There is severe damage to the communities, and hundreds of deaths are expected and many more injured," Enzo di Taranto, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti, told the New York Times. "There will be a severe impact on the environment, agriculture and water systems."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Hurricane Matthew: "It's a monster"
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a series of stern warnings about Hurricane Matthew on Thursday, urging people take shelter from a "monster" storm.
Scott, who has been touring the state for days in preparation for the hurricane, said at a news conference that Florida would see widespread power outages, flooding, possible tornadoes, and the potential for storm surge and waves to go over the roofs of coastal homes.
"We're already starting to see the impacts and it's a monster," he said.
In response to the threat, Scott instituted a curfew in some communities and activated 3,500 National Guard troops.
"This is the most I've ever had to activate," he said.
Scott also outlined ways to stay safe, telling people to evacuate, to have enough provisions for three days, and to get away from areas that could be impacted by the storm.
"We want everybody to survive this horrible storm," he added. "It's the most import thing we can do."
— Jim Dalrymple II
The death toll in Haiti rises to at least 260
These photos show how devastating Hurricane Matthew has already been
For more photos on the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew as it pushes on to Florida, go here.
President Obama declares a state of emergency in South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew approaches the US
President Obama declared a state of emergency Thursday for South Carolina, opening the door for federal aid.
In announcing the declaration, Obama said the objective was to save lives and "lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe."
— Jim Dalrymple II
US Coast Guard video shows massive damage in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew
Video published Thursday by the US Coast Guard shows massive damage to buildings and other infrastructure in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
The video was shot by a Miami-based Ocean Sentry airplane crew that flew over Haiti on Wednesday. According to the Coast Guard, the crew saw "heavy coastal flooding and significant damage" to buildings, highways, another other infrastructure in both the south and north sides of the island nation.
In the video, entire neighborhoods appear to exhibit significant damage. Homes with destroyed roofs and collapsed walls are visible, as are toppled trees and flooded streets.
— Jim Dalrymple II
Forecasters call Hurricane Matthew storm surge “worst case scenario"
Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Florida, referred to Hurricane Matthew as a "worst case storm surge scenario" Thursday.
In a warning posted Thursday afternoon, forecasters said that a major storm hadn't hit the area since 1898 and that there is "no local living memory of the potential of this event."
The NWS said "catastrophic damage is anticipated for coastal areas," with winds hitting 125 mph.
"Some of the lowest barrier island will be completely overtopped with large battering wave and life threatening flooding," NWS also warned.
The agency urged people in the storm's path to evacuate.
"If a direct landfall occurs this will be unlike any hurricane in the modern era," it warned.
— Jim Dalrymple II
The Weather Channel implores people to flee ahead of Hurricane Matthew: "Do not assume you can survive."
The Weather Channel's hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross implored people to flee ahead of Hurricane Matthew Thursday, describing the storm as both devastating and unprecedented.
"This is like no storm in the record books," Norcross said, adding that it was a "mistake" to stay in evacuation zones. "I cannot overstate the danger of this storm. Central and north Florida have never been hit by a storm this strong."
Norcross went on to say that the storm would like make history, causing "overwhelming damage" and "likely, loss of life."
"Do not assume you can survive if you choose to stay," Norcross also said.
— Jim Dalrymple II
President Obama declares a state of emergency in Florida
President Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida and ordered federal aid to the state.
The president authorized FEMA to provide resources and equipment to help with the impact of the storm.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Hillary Clinton delays Weather Channel ad until after the storm
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has delayed a planned Florida ad on the Weather Channel until after the storm has passed.
"We have requested that stations in Florida delay any of those ads on the Weather Channel until after the storm passes," spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement.
Clinton's campaign had planned to air $63,000 worth of ads on the Weather Channel for a five-day period, starting Thursday, according to Politico.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
The death toll has risen to 108 in Haiti
Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph announced the new death toll Thursday, according to the AP.
Previously, officials had said there were four people killed in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia, and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
There are no immediate details on the deaths.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Airbnb activates disaster response tool in Florida and South Carolina
Airbnb activated its disaster response tool on Thursday, to help those evacuating their homes due to Hurricane Matthew.
The tool connects displaced residents with Airbnb hosts who can offer urgent accommodations, free of charge.
According to a statement the company released Thursday, this is the first time Airbnb has activated the tool before a disaster.
The service will be in effect through October 11.
"This is the first major hurricane threat that this area has seen in a few years, and we are hopeful that Airbnb can help play a small part in making the evacuation process easier for residents and their families," Airbnb spokesperson Nick Shapiro said in a statement.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Georgia governor orders mandatory evacuation of coast
Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered a mandatory evacuation along the coast of Georgia, according to the AP.
The evacuation, which includes Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties, will affect more than 500,000 people.
Deal said powerful winds and heavy rain could reach Georgia late Thursday.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
National Hurricane Center: Evacuations should apply to inland areas, too
The National Hurricane Center said in a Thursday morning memo that evacuations ahead of Hurricane Matthew should not be considered a coastal event, and that strong winds are expected in inland areas as well.
"Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, and heavy rains in the northwestern Bahamas today, and alone extensive portions of the east coast of Florida tonight," the center's announcement read.
Manatee County, which is located just south of Tampa and also includes a sizable inland area, also announced this morning that officials had declared a state of emergency as Hurricane Matthew was upgraded back to a Category 4 storm.
As a result, Manatee District schools will be closed Friday.
“This is going to kill people:” Gov. Rick Scott urges Floridians to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew
Scott urged people to evacuate immediately saying that Florida would be impacted either with a "direct hit" or hurricane-force winds along the coast.
"Time is running out," Scott said at a press conference. "There are no excuses. You need to leave. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. Are you willing to take a chance to risk your life? Are you willing to take a gamble? That's what you're doing. If you're reluctant to evacuate just think of all the people the storm has already killed. You and your family could be among these numbers if you don't take this seriously. Unfortunately, this is going to kill people." —Tasneem Nashrulla
More than 3,000 people check into Florida shelters ahead of Hurricane Matthew
Following officials' mandate that residents evacuate their coastal homes as Hurricane Matthew approaches, more than 3,000 Floridians have checked into 48 shelters stationed around the state, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDME) told the Associated Press.
The FDME added that another 13 shelters for those with special needs is currently housing 31 people.
Miami's National Weather Service tweeted Thursday morning that any remaining evacuations "should be expedited before the onset of tropical storm force winds," which are expected to begin this afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center also added another area in Georgia to its watch list as the tropical storm approaches. In a public advisory posted Thursday morning, the administration placed the Altamaha Sound region in Georgia on its hurricane watch summary.
"Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area in northeast Georgia and South Carolina by early Saturday, with tropical storm conditions possible on Friday night," the advisory read.
Florida governor asks Obama to declare state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Matthew
Gov. Rick Scott has asked the president to declare a state of emergency in 26 Florida counties ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
"I just submitted a request to President Obama for an Emergency Declaration for the state of Florida in 26 counties, as well as Direct Federal Assistance in order to meet pre-landfall critical emergency needs of our communities. It is critical that President Obama quickly approves this request," Scott said in a statement.
Scott activated 1,000 National Guard Members in addition to the 1,500 members already positioned between North, Central and South Florida. He also requested all tolls in the affected areas to be suspended and evacuated.
"Storm impacts will begin tomorrow morning in our state," the statement said. "There is still time to evacuate. Get out now if you are in an area with evacuations. If you make a decision not to leave before the storm, we cannot send someone to save you because you made a bad decision. Don't wait until you lose power. You need to leave before it is too late."
—Michelle Broder Van Dyke
Southeast prepares as Hurricane Matthew takes aim at US
Residents across the Southeastern US coast cleared out supermarket shelves, stocked up on fuel, and boarded up windows as they prepared for Hurricane Matthew.
At least half a million people were expected to evacuate from coastal areas to higher ground, the Associated Press reported, and officials warned they could be away from their homes for several days. More evacuations were possible on Thursday.
In South Carolina, gas stations ran out of fuel as residents filled up their cars and took to highways for the slow evacuation away from the coast.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Matthew could bring the biggest evacuation in state history. He urged residents to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Florida and South Carolina residents begin evacuating to higher ground
Florida and South Carolina residents began evacuating their coastal residencies for higher ground Wednesday. Lines of cars filled with belongings stretched for miles on roads leading out of town.
"People have less than 24 hours to prepare," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday. "Having a plan could be the difference between life and death."
The hurricane has already hit the Bahamas and is expected to hit the coast of Florida next before moving toward other parts of the US.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, a mandatory evacuation of Brevard County's barrier island and Merritt island was implemented.
The evacuation was projected to affect around 250,000 people, though this does not include the high level of tourists visiting places like the Walt Disney World Resort, located about an hour's drive from Merritt island.
Disney World — despite Gov. Scott's warning — is remaining open and operating normally, though they are "keeping an eye on the storm," their website says.
"If you made a decision not to leave, we cannot send someone to risk their lives to save yours," Scott warned. "We can rebuild a home, we can rebuild a business, we cannot rebuild your life."
Across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the American Red Cross stood ready with more than 500 disaster workers.
"This is a dangerous storm, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007," Brad Kieserman of the Red Cross said in a statement. "As the Red Cross gets ready, we urge people who may live in the path of this storm to make their own preparations now. It's critical that coastal residents pay close attention to the forecast and listen to their local authorities, as even a small shift in the storm could have a significant impact."
Hurricane warnings remain in place for Florida's south coast.
Hurricane warnings remain in place for much of Florida's south coast as Hurricane Matthew moves north across the Bahamas to mainland US.
Hurricane Matthew weakened to a Category 3 storm after making landfall in Cuba, with its maximum sustained winds dropping to 125 mph. But forecasters expect it to regain strength as it moves toward the Bahamas.
In a statement posted at 5 a.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said people living in the hurricane's path should begin preparations.
"Matthew is forecast to move north-northwest throughout the central Bahamas during the day today, and then move very near or along the east coast of Florida Thursday and Friday."
"Matthew is an extremely dangerous hurricane that has the potential for widespread to extensive damage along the east coast. Now is the time to act! Everyone should bring their hurricane preparations to completion today."
At least 11 dead as Hurricane Matthew continues
At least 11 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Matthew as it continues to move through the Caribbean and toward the US.
By nightfall on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported at least five people had died in Haiti, where it was feared the hurricane would leave catastrophic destruction. With communications out in some areas and continued flooding, the full extent of damage remained unknown.
Earlier in the week, four people had died in the Dominican Republic, plus one person in Colombia and another in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Florida beaches now facing hurricane warning
The National Hurricane Center upgraded its advisory for some Florida beaches late Tuesday from a hurricane watch to a hurricane warning.
That means hurricane conditions are expected in 150 miles of Florida beaches in the next 48 hours, rather than just being possible.
The warning was issued for the area between Golden Lake and Sebastian Inlet — which includes Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Port St Lucie — as well as Lake Okeechobee. Hurricane watches were expanded in other parts of the state as well.
Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Eastern Cuba
Hurricane Matthew made landfall Tuesday night in eastern Cuba as a powerful Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph.
A hurricane warning remained in effect for parts of Cuba, the Bahamas, and Haiti, the National Hurricane Center said, and Florida's Lake Okeechobee and Golden Beach were under a hurricane watch.
The hurricane was forecast to dump 8-12 inches of rain on eastern Cuba with isolated areas seeing as much as 20 inches.
Rainfall totals for southern Haiti remained at an estimated 15 to 25 inches, with some areas seeing 40 inches. The effect was on Tuesday was shortages of fresh water, overflowing hospitals, and at least 10,000 people in shelters, the Associated Press reported.
A United Nations official said it was the worst humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake brought devastation.
South Carolina governor calls for 1 million residents to evacuate
Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday called on 1 million residents of coastal areas to move to higher ground as Hurricane Matthew moved toward her state.
Haley earlier in the day had called a state of emergency and activated 1,800 members of the National Guard. This hurricane — expected to bring 100 mph winds and 5-7 foot storm suges — would be worse than other recent storms, she warned residents.
"We've been through winter storms, We've been through a thousand-year flood," she said. "A hurricane is different."
Evacuations were expected to formally begin 3 p.m. Wednesday, with medical evacuations taking the first priority. Haley urged residents to fill their cars with gas, take their important documents, get in touch with family, and make a plan for where they could be staying through the weekend.
In addition to the National Guard, 3,700 state troopers and local law enforcement officers would be assisting residents on their evacuation routes, she said. The goal was to get all residents — including those of Charleston — at least 100 miles away from the coast.
"It's not going to be a fast evacuation, but what we ask is that you be patient and understand that it could take up to several hours," she said.
The US has provided $400,000 in initial relief assistance to Haiti and Jamaica
A State Department official said it was too early to asses the scope of the damage.
"We are closely monitoring the storm's progress," he said. "We have already started mobilizing assistance to communities impacted, including providing $400,000 in initial relief assistance to Haiti and Jamaica."
The official said that the US had dispatched an "elite team of disaster experts" to coordinate with the government and humanitarian agencies in the affected areas in Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
He said that the US was also communicating with officials in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands to coordinate relief efforts if requested.
— Tasneem Nashrulla
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents to "prepare for a major hurricane"
Scott said that evacuation orders may be issued starting Tuesday. The National Guard had activated 200 members ahead of the storm.
He urged resident on the state's east coast — where Matthew is headed — plan for evacuations and to leave the area early.
"Impacts of Hurricane #Matthew could include: Heavy rain (4-7 in), rip currents, beach erosion, tornadoes & hurricane force winds," Scott tweeted.
— Tasneem Nashrulla
Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti, bringing death and destruction
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in western Haiti on Tuesday, becoming the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the country since Hurricane Cleo in 1964.
The hurricane made landfall near the town of Les Anglais around 7 a.m. ET, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Winds of up to 145 mph were recorded, according to the Associated Press, with gusts uprooting trees and tearing roofs from homes.
Dozens of houses have been destroyed, according to the Haiti Libre news website.
Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Agency, told the AP the extent of the damage is not yet known.
"It's much too early to know how bad things are, but we do know there are a lot of houses that have been destroyed or damaged in the south," she said.
The AP reported at least seven people had been killed in the storm across the region, including four in the Dominican Republic and a fisherman who drowned in Haiti.
A person too ill to leave their home was also killed in the Haitian town of Port Salut, the BBC reported.
In a statement, Save the Children said it was sending an emergency response team to Haiti to assist its workers already in the country.
"Our thoughts and hearts go out to the Haitian people, many of whom had yet to fully recover from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010," said Carolyn Miles, the charity's president.
The National Hurricane Center has warned the eye of the storm is expected to hit Cuba "hard" later on Tuesday. Winds of up to 65 mph have already been recorded in Guantanamo Bay, the NHC said.
Flooding and storm surges have been expected across the Caribbean, with up to 40 inches of water feared in parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
"Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in southern and northwestern Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba," the NHC said.
Haiti braces as Hurricane Matthew approaches with 145 mph winds
A powerful hurricane barreled toward the Caribbean island nation of Haiti on Monday with 145 mph winds, threatening to devastate the Western hemisphere's poorest nation with flooding rains and dangerous winds.
Hurricane Matthew has already caused the death of a fisherman in Haiti as its outer bands brought high winds and rains to the waters around the island, the Associated Press reported. But officials warned the worst was yet to come and urged Haitians living along rivers and in shantytowns to move to shelters.
The fisherman was the third person to be killed in the hurricane. A man died in Colombia, and a 16-year-old died in St. Vincent and the Grenadines last week.
By Monday night, forecasters said "life-threatening" rain, wind, and storm surge were expected in parts of Haiti. A hurricane warning was also in effect for parts of Cuba and the Bahamas. Watches and warnings may be issued for Florida as soon as Tuesday morning.
"Matthew is likely to produce devastating impacts" in Haiti, the National Hurricane Center said.
In southern areas of the country, forecasters expected 15-25 inches of rain with some isolated areas receiving up to 40 inches. Flash floods and mudslides were likely to follow.
Outside Port-au-Prince, some residents feared if they evacuated, they would lose their belongings, the AP reported.
"Based on our experience we anticipate the most pressing needs to be clean drinking water and shelter," said Jessica Pearl, Haiti country director for Mercy Corps. "Haiti is not well-prepared for a major hurricane, and we are particularly concerned about people living in rural areas who are unlikely to be receiving preparedness or evacuation information."
Some tried to reinforce shacks made from tin and tarps. One woman told the AP all she and her family could do was pray.
"I know my house could easily blow away," Ronlande Francois said. "All I can do is pray and then pray some more."