Nearly 2m urged to evacuate as Hurricane Matthew edges toward US
06 October 2016, 12:21
Miami - Hurricane Matthew marched toward Florida, Georgia
and the Carolinas on Wednesday, with nearly two million people along the coast urged
to evacuate their homes, a mass exodus ahead of a major storm packing power the
US hasn't seen in more than a decade.
Matthew was a dangerous and life-threatening Category 3
storm with sustained winds of 190kph as it passed through the Bahamas, and it
was expected to be very near Florida's Atlantic coast by Thursday evening.
At least 16 deaths in the Caribbean have been blamed on the
storm, with heavy damage reported in Haiti.
The storm was forecast to scrape much of the Florida coast
and any slight deviation could mean landfall or it heading farther out to sea.
Either way, it was going to be close enough to wreak havoc along the lower part
of the East Coast, and many people weren't taking any chances.
In Melbourne Beach, near the Kennedy Space Center, Carlos
and April Medina moved their paddle board and kayak inside the garage and took
pictures off the walls of their home about 500 feet from the coast. They moved
the pool furniture inside, turned off the water, disconnected all electrical
appliances and emptied their refrigerator.
They then hopped in a truck filled with legal documents,
jewellery and a decorative carved shell that had once belonged to April
Medina's great-grandfather and headed west to Orlando, where they planned to
ride out the storm with their daughter's family.
"The way we see it, if it maintains its current path,
we get tropical storm-strength winds. If it makes a little shift to the left,
it could be a Category 2 or 3 and I don't want to be anywhere near it,"
Carlos Medina said. "We are just being a little safe, a little bit more
Nearby in the town of Cape Canaveral, John Long said
Hurricane Matthew is just hype as his neighbours in his RV park packed up and
evacuated inland. Even though his RV is close to the Banana River and a half
mile from the beach, he had no plans to leave.
Long, who owns a bike shop and has lived along the Space
Coast for 30 years, said he has a generator and enough food and water for
himself and his cats to last a week.
"There's always tremendous build-up and then it's no
stronger than an afternoon thunderstorm," he said. "I'm not
anticipating that much damage."
In Fort Lauderdale, to the south, six employees at a
seven-bedroom Mediterranean-style mansion packed up for an evacuation fearing
any storm surge could flood the property. The homeowners planned to move to
another home they own in Palm Beach that's further from the water. Two
Lamborghinis and a Ferrari had been placed inside the garage, but employee Mae
White wasn't sure what they would do with a Rolls Royce, Mustang and other cars
still parked in the driveway.
"This storm surge. It's scary," White said.
"You're on the water, you've got to go."
The last Category 3 storm or higher to hit the United States
was Wilma in October 2005. It made landfall with 190kph winds in southwest
Florida, killing five people as it pushed through the Everglades and into the
Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach area. It caused an estimated $21 billion in
damage and left thousands of residents without power for more than a week. It
concluded a two-year span when a record eight hurricanes hit the state.