ABC News(NEW YORK) — Thousands sought emergency shelter on Tuesday as Hurricane Matthew lashed Haiti with 145-mph winds, a storm surge of up to 10 feet and torrential rain that is forecast to reach up to 40 inches in some spots.
The category 4 storm plodded northwest across the Caribbean Sea at about 7 mph, on a course that will put it near the Florida coast sometime Thursday, ABC meteorologist Max Golembo said.
Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm.
“Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening category four hurricane and we must all take it seriously,” Scott said in a statement. “If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven’t seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992. That is why we cannot delay and must prepare for direct impact now.
Some 6,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters, Haiti’s civil protection service said on Twitter. Many more remained in flood-prone areas.
“Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are likely from this rainfall in southern and northwestern Haiti, the southwestern Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba,” the National Hurricane Center warned in an advisory.
Some 10.6 million people are in the storm’s path in Haiti, according to the United Nations, in addition to 11.2 million in Cuba and 2.8 million in Jamaica.
Citing “life-threatening rains, winds and storm surges,” the USAID released $400,000 in initial aid to mount a humanitarian response to the storm.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory also declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in his state in anticipation of Matthew striking Thursday night. The governor said he has been in contact with FEMA to prepare for the storm.
“I’m hoping this is a false alarm, but we can’t gamble,” McCrory said.
A FEMA spokesperson said the storm is being monitored very closely, adding that FEMA is in touch with officials in potentially affected states.
“It’s too soon to know what impact, if any it, will have on the U.S, but we’re urging individuals to take advantage of the time they have right now to prepare,” the spokesperson said.
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