Hurricane Matthew Updates: Over 800 Reported Dead In Haiti, Obama Declares A Federal State Of Emergency

As Hurricane Matthew ascends towards the United States, the storm has restrengthened into a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds. By Friday morning, the powerful storm will slam into Florida, which already saw early bands of rain clouds on Thursday. Matthew is categorized as “very dangerous” with millions of people being ordered to evacuate in Georgia, South Carolina (where grocery supplies are already running low), and Florida, where Delray Beach is currently being battered with strong rain and winds.

Florida is taking extreme precautions with a possible direct hit on the way. Thousands of flights have been canceled, and on Thursday, Disney World will close all its parks by 5 p.m. in anticipation of the storm’s arrival. Governor Rick Scott has issued a dire warning to his state’s residents as the state prepares for the worst-case scenario: “This is going to kill people. Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you.” He adds that people should expect to have no power for days, so charge those cell phones up.

Scott has already activated 500 Florida National Guardsmen to aid in evacuation efforts with another 6,000 waiting on standby for the storm’s effects. And President Obama has just signed a state-of-emergency declaration to release federal aid dollars that will help the state and local governments with evacuation and recovery. (Meanwhile, Vanilla Ice is tweeting that he’s going to ride out the storm. Don’t do that.)

With an expected storm surge that ranges from three to nine feet, it’s no wonder that Florida is taking this storm with the utmost seriousness. In Haiti, over 100 people have been confirmed dead (108 by CNN’s count). This photo shows stranded people after a bridge collapsed south of Port-au-Prince.

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This radar image reveals Matthew’s terrifying double-eyewall structure as it approaches Florida.

And to make this storm sound even scarier, CNN meteorologists believe it’s possible that Matthew will hit Florida twice.

UPDATE 8:15pm: Officials now say the storm has taken over 260 lives in Haiti.

UPDATE 11:50pm: Reuters has updated the Haiti death toll to over 330. In addition, current radar images say the storm has shifted slightly to the east and may not make landfall. However, any lack of a direct hit doesn’t mean this storm isn’t still life threatening in nature. The storm surge (which could be up to 11 feet high in some places) and isolated rainfall amounts still bring the potential for catastrophe.

UPDATE Oct 7 – 4:50pm: The BBC now reports that the Haiti death toll has now surpassed 800 victims.

(Via The Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News & 6 Action News)

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