As states along the East Coast brace for the worst of its impact, Hurricane Matthew has been deemed an “extremely dangerous” Category 3 storm, with hurricane warnings in effect for parts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The hurricane has already devastated Haiti, leaving nearly 300 dead in its wake, according to the Associated Press. In Jeremie, a city off the western coast of the country, some 80 percent of buildings were reportedly leveled by the storm.
Parts of Florida have already been battered by heavy wind and rain.
Nearly 500,000 Floridians were also without power early Friday morning, with dramatic video showing power lines exploding in the storm.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 7, 2016
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with every weather forecasting agency, issued a final plea for residents in the path of the storm to follow evacuation orders. A curfew is also underway in some communities.
On Thursday evening, President Obama declared a state of emergency for South Carolina. The governors of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina have also declared states of emergency.
Wind gusts of more than 100 miles per hour have already been measured at Cape Canaveral, where the eye of the storm is as close as 25 miles away.
The storm is expected to move parallel to the coast over the next two days and the possible combination of storm surge and 15 inches of rain in some areas could cause massive flooding.
The storm surge from Matthew could cause “worst-case scenario” flooding, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, FL. The agency also said “catastrophic damage is anticipated for coastal areas.”
If the storm makes direct impact, “this will be unlike any hurricane in the modern era,” NWS forecasters said.
Life-threatening flooding is expected along Florida’s east coast, the coast of Georgia, and the region from Jupiter Inlet in Florida to South Santee River in South Carolina over the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Although the center also predicts the storm will weaken over the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain a category 3 storm as it nears the coast of Florida.