US President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Florida on Thursday as Hurricane Matthew inched closer towards the state leaving over 140 dead in the Caribbean, reported news agency Reuters. The action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts necessitated by the storm, a Category 4 hurricane packing winds of 140 mph (220 kph).
Speaking to Associated Press, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida.” Scott also added that this might be the biggest evacuation in Florida till date. He has issued a special warning for those living in the low-lying areas stressing that they should evacuate.
Adding that over 1.5 million people were living in the evacuation zones, the Florida Governor also warned people to stay off beaches. Over 2,500 National Guard members are working to help with the evacuation and sheltering people.
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Almost 2 million people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were told to move for safety. In order to speed up the process of evacuation, interstate highways were turned into one-way routes.
Reports also suggest that Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic coast in more than a decade. Rescue workers continue their struggle in Haiti which has been the worst-affected area.
More details awaited.