Updated Thursday, Oct. 6, 9 p.m. EDT: The New York Times is reporting that the death toll in Haiti is at least 283, after officials there drastically raised the number following lower initial reports. They say the number of deaths is likely to rise as international organizations begin to reach the worst-affected areas of the country.
Hurricane Matthew has already killed at least 108 in Haiti, and that number is expected to rise, the Miami Herald reports.
Haitian officials said that more than 28,000 houses have been damaged. In the aftermath of the storm Thursday, they vowed to take charge of the country’s reconstruction.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said President Jocelerme Privert. “The situation is critical.”
Now Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning his residents and encouraging people to evacuate as Hurricane Matthew continues to pick up speed.
NBC News reported that up to 1.5 million Americans were fleeing the south Atlantic coastal U.S. when it was declared that the hurricane had grown to a Category 4 storm.
Scott activated 3,500 members of the National Guard, while President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state.
“Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you,” said Scott. “There is no reason not to leave.”
According to NBC News, winds are expected to be moving at 145 mph at landfall, and there’s a small chance that the storm could reach a Category 5 strength.
“My goal is to make sure everyone is prepared,” Scott said. “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”
The National Hurricane Center put out a warning northward to Altamaha Sound in Georgia, and another watch was put out as far north as the South Santee River in South Carolina.