As of Oct. 6, Hurricane Matthew is a Category 4 hurricane barreling off the coast of eastern Florida. The storm is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Florida in more than a decade.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida on Oct. 6. The move helps bring federal aid and funding to the inevitable clean-up, rescue and relief efforts that will befall Florida in Matthew's wake.
More than two dozen counties along Florida’s Atlantic coast are designated for Department of Homeland Security and FEMA assistance, reports WESH.
"This is an excellent step in terms of getting us those federal resources quicker,” Miguel Ascarrunz, a director of emergency management in south Florida, said, reports the Miami Herald.
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According to the New York Times, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has called for more than 1.5 million Floridians to evacuate their homes.
“You need to leave,” Scott began. “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”
On the afternoon of Oct. 6, the National Weather Service announced its own warning.
“Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 24 hours,” the alert stated. “Airborne debris lofted by extreme winds will be capable of breaching structures, unprotected windows and vehicles.”
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Hurricane Matthew has already inflicted a devastating toll on Haiti -- the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. More than 100 people are reported dead in the country, with the toll expected to climb in the coming days.
“I’m afraid for my home,” Lois Paul, who lives in a mobile home along Florida’s coast, said. “The worst part is not knowing what’s going on there while you’re away. You just don’t know what you’re going to find when you get home.”
The White House notes that, during a briefing at FEMA headquarters on Oct. 5, Obama cautioned those in evacuation zones. “And if you get an evacuation order, just remember that you can always rebuild, you can always repair property; you cannot restore a life if it is lost.”