Florida, Carolinas Brace For Fury Of Hurricane Matthew, Millions Evacuate East Coast

As Hurricane Matthew cuts a path of destruction through the Bahamas on its way towards the East Coast of the United States, millions have begun fleeing the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, stripping some stores of food, water and gas ahead of the storm.

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Hurricane Matthew was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was located about 205 miles south-southeast of Nassau as of the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. Oct. 5 update. The storm was moving northwest at 12 mph.

On its current projected path, the strong Category 3 storm is anticipated to arrive off Florida’s east coast at some point on Thursday, and is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 storm.

“On this track, Matthew will be moving across the Bahamas through Thursday, and is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening,” the hurricane center wrote.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the hurricane center warned coastal residents. “There is a danger of life- threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida east coast from Deerfield Beach to the Flagler/Volusia county line. There is the possibility of life-threatening inundation during the next 48 hours from north of the Flagler/Volusia county line to Savannah River.”

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The governors of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina have declared a state of emergency, and more than 7,800 National Guard soldiers were activated or placed on alert.

Matthew made landfall on eastern Cuba last night as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph.

As the storm continues to track towards the United States, the number of Matthew-related fatalities has risen to 11 in the Caribbean, according to the Associated Press.