Residents in the projected path of the deadly Hurricane Matthew have started preparing for the worst as east-coast governors from Florida all the way to North Carolina have all declared states of emergency. Efforts to prepare for the deadly storm have resulted in massive gas lines and empty store shelves as residents either get out of town or bulk up on supplies to ride out the storm.
Hurricane Matthew has battered the Caribbean over the past two days as a massive category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, claiming at least 17 lives in Haiti and Cuba. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Matthew was downgraded to a category 3 storm early this morning with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph but meteorologists warned the hurricane was likely to strengthen again in the coming days.
Per Reuters, the U.N. has declared Hurricane Matthew the biggest natural disaster to strike Haiti since the devastating earthquake six years ago after it destroyed close to 1,000 homes and left up to 10,000 people in shelters.
Authorities said on Wednesday five people in Haiti were crushed by trees and six were swept away by swollen rivers.
“More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by the flood waters and violent winds,” said Ernst Ais, the mayor of the town of Cavaillon, near Les Cayes. He said a mother and three children died in floodwaters in his town.
Three men were killed in Leogane, near Port-au-Prince, when a coconut palm fell on their home, the mayor there said.
Mourad Wahba, the U.N. secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Haiti, said much of the population had been displaced by Matthew and at least 10,000 were in shelter.
“Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian event witnessed since the earthquake six years ago,” he said.
Per the NHC, the latest forecast calls for Hurricane Matthew to make landfall in Florida as a “Major Hurricane” with maximum sustained winds of at least 110 mph late Thursday evening or early Friday morning. The storm is then expected to turn toward the northeast following right along the eastern seaboard all the way to North Carolina.
Parts of Florida are expected to receive up to 10 inches of rain which can fluctuate substantially depending upon the ultimate path of the storm. Meanwhile, Barclays analyst, Jay Gelb, warned that Hurricane Matthew may be among the top five worst U.S. hurricanes in history and has the potential to “wipe out” about a quarter’s worth of earnings for re-insurers.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) October 5, 2016
Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has already closed schools and order evacuations of anyone within 100 miles of the coast as deadly winds and 5-7 foot storm surges are expected.
Meanwhile, gas lines have backed up all over the east coast as people prepare to get out of town or simply stock up on fuel for generators. Per NBC, gas stations across South Carolina are already running out of gas.
But that’s not been so easy for some on Hilton Head.
“We were at a station for 30 minutes and just as we pulled in they ran out of gas,” Montgomery said.
“We got in line and by the time we got up to the pump it was out of gas,” Orr said. “A lady came out to let everybody know that they was out of gas.”
And that’s a big concern for nearly everyone on the island.
“They should’ve been prepared for us,” Orr said. “They knew that it was coming so they should’ve had enough gas.”
And any station with remaining supplies are experiencing huge lines of antsy customers.
— Allen Furmanski (@TekGuyAllen) October 5, 2016
Apparently the situation became so severe in Mount Pleasant, SC that the police department had to remind residents that “a gas station running out of gas” wasn’t a valid reason to call 911.
— Mount Pleasant PD (@MountPleasantPD) October 4, 2016
Traffic along the South Carolina hurricane evacuation route was at a standstill early this morning.
— Deon Guillory (@DeonWLTX) October 5, 2016
Meanwhile, home improvement stores and grocery stores are running out of vital supplies like plywood and water as some residents prepare to ride out the storm from home.
— Scottie Nell Hughes (@scottienhughes) October 5, 2016
— Andrew Knapp (@offlede) October 4, 2016
— Brooke Shafer (@Brooke_Tv20) October 5, 2016
Hurricane Matthew is still in the Bahamas and the water shelves in Wal-Mart are already bare in Virginia. Wow pic.twitter.com/vFFA6GnLVu
— Steve Campbell (@campbellstevend) October 5, 2016
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) October 4, 2016