Storm warn­ing sparks mass ex­o­dus

Mil­lions leave homes and head in­land af­ter HurricaneMatthew threat­ens a ‘di­rect hit’

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By REUTERS

The fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade slammed into the Ba­hamas early on Thurs­day and was ex­pected to in­ten­sify as it bar­reled to­wards the south­east US coast, where a mass ex­o­dus was un­der way in four states.

Road­ways in Florida, Ge­or­gia andNorth and South Carolina were packed from late on Wed­nes­day, with mil­lions heed­ing warn­ings to flee in­land asHur­ri­caneMatthew ap­proached, pack­ing sus­tained winds of about 185 kilo­me­ters per hour, storm surges and heavy rain.

Matthew, which killed at least 26 peo­ple and dam­aged swathes of homes in south­ern Haiti, was pre­dicted to strengthen from Cat­e­gory 3 to 4 storm en route to eastern Florida.

Land­fall was ex­pected there on Thurs­day night, the US Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said.

“Ev­ery­one in our state­must pre­pare now for a di­rect hit,” Florida Gover­nor Rick Scott told a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day. “If Matthew di­rectly im­pacts Florida, the de­struc­tion could be cat­a­strophic and you need to be pre­pared.”

All four states in the hur­ri­cane’s path de­clared states of emer­gency as shel­ters opened their doors af­ter gov­er­nors, along with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, urged res­i­dents to evac­u­ate their homes.

About 12 mil­lion US res­i­dents were un­der hur­ri­cane watch­esand­warn­ings, ac­cord­ing to theWeather Chan­nel.

Gas sta­tions in Florida posted “out of gas” signs af­ter mo­torists waited in long lines to fill up their tanks.

“Ev­ery gas sta­tion I went to is empty,” said Charles Bivona in a Tweet late onWed­nes­day.

Peo­ple­who­planned to wait out the storm stocked up on wa­ter, milk and canned goods, emp­ty­ing gro­cery store shelves, footage local me­dia showed.

Res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers boarded up win­dows and placed sand­bags to pro­tect against flood­ing.

“All boarded up and ready to bunker down. God be with us,” West Palm Beach Florida res­i­dent Brad Gray tweeted. from • In 2005, Hur­ri­caneKa­t­rina left 1,800 peo­ple dead and­was the costli­est storm in­UShis­tory with dam­age es­ti­mated at $108 bil­lion. It­was a Cat­e­gory 3 storm when it made land­fall over Louisiana. • In 1938, roughly 700 peo­ple died in the Great NewEng­land Hur­ri­cane. It raked the re­gion as a Cat­e­gory 3 storm and wiped out railroad tracks, util­i­ties, homes, crops and the fish­ing in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­alWeather Ser­vice. • In 1928, the GreatO­kee­chobee Hur­ri­cane struck Florida as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm, leav­ing more than 2,500 dead. LakeO­kee­chobee over­flowed, caus­ing dis­as­trous flood­ing that in­un­dated several com­mu­ni­ties. • In 1900, a hur­ri­cane made­land­fall in Galve­ston, Texas, with winds es­ti­mated to be 209 kilo­me­ters per hour and a storm surge of a whop­ping 4.6 me­ters. Some8,000peo­ple died, and the Na­tional Oceanic andAt­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion says dam­age es­ti­mates ex­ceeded $20mil­lion at the time— roughly$700mil­lion in to­day’s dol­lars.

RAN­DALL HILL / REUTERS

Allen Scurry (left), Brent Scurry (cen­ter) and Bran­don Floyd, all of Lake City, South Carolina, in­stall win­dow shut­ters at an ocean front home in Gar­den City Beach.

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