As Hurricane Matthew churns through the Greater Antilles, authorities in several Southeastern states are preparing for the worst, and one state is getting ready to evacuate the coast.
Emergencies have been declared in three states – all of Florida and South Carolina, as well as eastern and central North Carolina and southeastern Georgia. In all four states, the decision was made because governors wanted to make resources available for what’s quickly becoming a large-scale preparation.
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Gov. Nikki Haley said a complete evacuation of the state’s coast will take place on Wednesday – 1.1 million people in all.
“Our goal is to make sure you get 100 miles away from the coast,” Haley said.
After a state of emergency was declared, Haley’s evacuation order will also close all schools and government offices in the counties that’ll be cleared out before Matthew arrives.
On Monday, Hilton Head Island suspended work on a $21 million dollar project to dredge sand from the ocean and rebuild the beach on the resort island on the state’s southern tip until the storm passes, according to the Associated Press.
One day after declaring a statewide emergency, Gov. Rick Scott announced the activation of 200 Florida National Guardsmen during a Tuesday press conference. He’ll activate 300 more on Wednesday, and another 6,000 members of the FNG were placed on standby in the event of a large-scale evacuation or response effort after the storm.
“We cannot rule out a direct hit on Florida,” Scott said during the briefing. “Again, we cannot rule out a direct hit.”
On Sunday, Scott said that he was taking no chances with the storm, calling it “catastrophic,” according to NBC News. He urged residents to be prepared for the worst.
“If it hits our state, we could see impacts that we have not seen in many years,” Scott said.
(MORE: Hurricane Matthew: What We Know)
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he would cancel a visit to Miami Gardens to campaign for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that was scheduled for Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was supposed to speak at Florida Memorial University Wednesday afternoon, but that was called off due to the storm, the report added.
Schools in Miami-Dade County will remain open Wednesday, but may be closed Thursday if conditions are expected to be dangerous. No evacuations have been ordered for the city of Miami, but Mayor Carlos Gimenez urged residents to prepare for a hurricane.
“The message is simple,” he told reporters, according to ABC News. “You should be prepared.”
The U.S. Coast Guard issued an advisory to boaters in southeastern Florida Monday, saying they should begin to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.
While ports and facilities remain open to commercial traffic, all oceangoing vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons “should make plans for departing the port,” the Coast Guard said in its press release.
Pleasure-boat owners are being advised to seek safe harbor.
On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina, according to the AP.
McCrory said at a news conference that he made the declaration at the request of North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
(MORE: The Latest Caribbean Impacts from Matthew)
According to the governor, the declaration will help farmers clear their crops by lifting truck weight restrictions and hours of service. This will allow farmers to get their harvest to market ahead of any possible impacts from the hurricane.
The governor said he didn’t want farmers to wait until Thursday to begin work if the storm is close to North Carolina.
The AP reported that non-essential personnel and family members of military personnel were evacuated from the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. About 5,500 people live on the base, including 61 men held at the detention center.
(MORE: Hurricane Strength by the Numbers)
The Miami Herald reports that 700 parents and their children began evacuating Saturday, along with family pets, to Pensacola, Florida.
Navy Capt. David Culpepper, the base commander, notified residents over Radio Gitmo to begin evacuating on Saturday.
“We have to prepare for the worst-case scenario,” Culpepper said. “Things are kind of in motion here at this point. We are trying to execute the most prudent plan given what we know.”
The storm has prompted a change in itinerary for several cruise ships bound for the area, according to Cruise Critic.