Governor and mayor address concerns as Florida braces for Matthew

Nick Blank

Updated track of Matthew posted at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Graphic Courtesy National Hurricane Center
Updated track of Matthew posted at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Graphic Courtesy National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Matthew‘s trajectory up the Florida coast is “moving westward” and closer to Jacksonville. It’s expected to strengthen to a category 4 hurricane by Thursday, Florida Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference Wednesday.

“Our projections show a few degrees shift can have a dramatic impact,” Scott said of the first major hurricane estimated to strike Florida since 2005.

Scott added Hurricane Matthew, currently located in The Bahamas, is less than 400 miles from Palm Coast with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. According to Weather Underground, Hurricane Matthew is 650 miles southeast of Jacksonville at this time.

Scott said Florida residents have less than 24 hours to prepare for Hurricane Matthew, which Reuters reported killed at least 25 in Haiti before it skimmed the eastern tip of Cuba.

Scott advised residents living in low-lying areas, on barrier islands, or areas prone to flooding to evacuate rather than wait. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a mandatory evacuation of zones A and B near the beaches early Wednesday afternoon.

“If you know you’re going to evacuate, evacuate. Don’t wait, move now,” Scott said.

The Governor has asked President Barack Obama for federal emergency funds for 26 counties. He also activated 1000 additional members of the National Guard to assist hurricane search and rescue operations. Duval county is yet to issue a hurricane warning but is under hurricane watch, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Curry said residents had no excuse to stay in zones ordered to evacuate, adding that authorities wouldn’t risk the safety of first responders to assist them.

Curry asked at-risk residents to locate their nearest shelter on the City of Jacksonville’s website.  

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