Millions hunker down in Fla.
Forecasters said Matthew could dump up to 15 inches of rain in some spots and cause a storm surge of 9 feet or more.
“A lot of communities are going to be underwater if predictions are correct,” said Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for Florida and South Carolina, freeing up federal money and personnel to protect lives and property.
The Pentagon signaled it was preparing for a potentially sprawling effort to assist Americans after Matthew hits, establishing four military bases — Fort Bragg in North Carolina, North Auxiliary Airfield in South Carolina, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Geor- ously enough,” Scott said. “I don’t want people to lose their life.”
At the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, NASAnolonger has to worry about rolling shuttles back from the launch pad to the hangar because of hurricanes because the shuttles have been retired. But private spaceflight company SpaceX was concerned about the storm’s effect on its leased seaside pad.
The last Category 3 storm or higher to hit the country was Wilma in October 2005. It sliced across Florida with 120 mph winds, killing five and causing $21 billion in damage.
As people hurried to higher ground, authorities in South Carolina said a motorist died Wednesday after being shot by deputies in a gunbattle that erupted when he sped away from a checkpoint along a storm evacuation route.
In Haiti, officials said 283 people died. Many towns were cut off by the storm and the magnitude of the disaster was just beginning to come into focus.
There were four people killed in neighboring Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the Bahamas, authorities reported extensive flooding but no deaths. The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency said authorities rescued 30 people who were trapped in their homes on the island of New Providence.
The first outer bands of rain from Matthew pass over Orlando, Fla. The Category 4 storm may make landfall early Friday.