States of emergencies were put in effect in Florida, North and South Carolina along with the coastal areas of Georgia this week in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to ride along the Atlantic coast this week.
The Category 4 hurricane has already wreaked havoc in Haiti, leaving thousands of people displaced and at least 11 dead. The storm also slammed into Cuba but early reports suggested its impact was not as devastating as in Haiti where winds reached 143 mph.
Hurricane Matthew barrels towards the Bahamas after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba pic.twitter.com/LUg8m2C4l0— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 5, 2016
The hurricane is expected to weaken as it approaches North Carolina with a reduced wind speed of 100 mph, but it could still cause wind damage along with flooding at the coasts.
South Carolina began massive evacuations of its coastal regions — home to a staggering 1.1 million people, not including tourists — by initiating state lane’s reversal plan, under which Interstate 26 will only go in the direction away from the coast.
In a press conference, Gov. Nikki Haley stated the plan to move people will remain in place unless the storm drastically changes its direction.
"Our goal is to make sure you get 100 miles away from the coast," Haley said.
Haley’s evacuation order will also close all government offices and schools in the counties that need to be cleared. Charleston Southern University, the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University and the University of South Carolina will be closed for the rest of the week.
Hilton Head Island paused all work on a $21 million project to dredge sand up from the ocean and rebuild the beach on the resort’s island until the storm passes.
South Carolina State college football game against Bethune-Cookman initially scheduled for Saturday has also been postponed.
The Red Cross has also put out a call for volunteers in South Carolina.
In North Carolina, officials have ordered the compulsory evacuation of UNC-Wilmington and Cape Lookout National Seashore.
"We are doing everything we can to prepare for Hurricane Matthew and ensure the safety of our citizens and visitors," said Gov. Pat McCrory. "I urge everyone on Ocracoke Island to take these evacuation orders seriously."
He also added state officials were concerned about damage not just on the coast but also inland, because the ground is already saturated and river water levels are high.
To ensure the state is ready, this afternoon, Gov. McCrory declared a State of Emergency for 66 counties in central and eastern #NC.— NC Governor's Office (@GovOfficeNC) October 3, 2016
Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged coastal residents to brace for a possibly direct hit by the storm and to store up to three days worth of rations and medicines.
He also activated 200 Florida National Guardsmen on Monday and will activate an additional 300 more on Wednesday. Another 6,000 FNGs were put on standby in the event of massive response effort after the hurricane passes.
Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already supplied extra volunteers and supplies to Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia. President Obama will also head to FEMA headquarters to get updates on the federal emergency response and take an appraisal of the storm.
Hurricane is the worst ever Atlantic storm since 2007. Mary Jane Lane, a resident of North Carolina, said people are comparing the storm to Hurricane Hazel, which rode the same path in 1954, resulting in the deaths of 400 people in Haiti and nearly 100 in the United States.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Drake