Matthew Battering Florida Coast

Matthew Battering Florida Coast

Matthew left more than 280 people dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

"We are all blessed that Matthew stayed off our coast", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

The storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane overnight after decimating Haiti, where the death toll rose Friday to more than 800, according to Reuters. News could not immediately confirm that number. "We're not going to know for three, four, five days what the ultimate effects of this (storm) are". Despite weakening, Matthew still packed maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour Friday afternoon, hammering the Florida shoreline with heavy rain and high winds.

More than one million customers were without power, the Florida's Public Service Commission tweeted.

In St. Augustine, Florida, streets were flooded. Businesses were all shuttered, and open gas stations were almost impossible to find.

"This rainfall is leading to record-breaking flooding over portions of eastern North Carolina, and it may result in life-threatening flooding and flash flooding elsewhere across the region", the National Hurricane Center said. Pat McCrory this afternoon called the storm potentially the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Jacksonville had not been under a hurricane warning in 17 years, according to The Weather Channel.

More tragedy is possible as the storm sets a path charging up the Florida coastline toward Georgia and into SC. A unsafe storm surge was expected to reach up to 3.35 meters along the Florida coast, Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the Miami-based NHC, said on CNN.

The Charleston, Savannah and Hilton Head areas will be most vulnerable to hurricane force winds, storm surge, and flooding.

Hurricane Matthew's howling wind and driving rain pummeled Florida early Friday, starting what's expected to be a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast.

Officials in St. Lucie County, Florida, said two people died overnight when emergency officials could not get to them because of the storm's strong winds.

The United Sugars Corp. refinery in Clewiston, Florida, U.S., about 65 miles inland from Florida's east coast, also was shut down late October 5 and was expected to reopen October 8, a company source said.

While the storm's exact track could vary slightly as it locks into its final path in the sweep up from the Caribbean and out of the Bahamas, Scott said Florida "must prepare for a direct hit". The storm's center could be near or over the coasts of Georgia and SC on Saturday, the hurricane center said.

She said aid agencies were most concerned about a surge in cholera cases, with the sanitation system in Haiti already overwhelmed.

About 450,000 were without power in Georgia and SC on Saturday, utility companies said.

While the storm clouds looked ominous and the forecast called for widespread destruction along their beloved coastline, the Detroit native said it could be worse.

"There is nothing safe about what is getting ready to happen", SC governor Nikki Haley said Friday, according to USA Today.

At least three towns reported dozens of fatalities, including the hilly farming village of Chantal, whose mayor said 86 people perished, mostly when trees crushed houses.

"We were 30 cots short".

Red Cross volunteers and firefighters put the word out on Facebook that the shelter was running low on supplies, and members of the community stepped up to help, he said.

Phones were not answered at The Sem-Chi Rice Products Corp. rice mill in Belle Glade, Florida, U.S., about 45 miles inland in the same vicinity as two Florida sugar refineries, but sources indicated it likely would be down for some period of time based on closures further inland.

Still, elsewhere, others weren't following the evacuation orders.

"Do what they say".

"We don't have any contact with Port-au-Prince yet and there are places we still haven't reached", Jeune said, as he and a team of Civil Protection agents in orange vests combed the area.

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