CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (KXAN/AP) — As Category 3 Hurricane Matthew continues to churn along the eastern coast of Florida, authorities in Georgia and South Carolina are continuing to urge their residents to evacuate if they live along the coast.
In Savannah, Ga. on Friday morning, emergency officials told people they had just a few more hours before powerful winds start hitting. Savannah police said they also will enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew. All emergency responders left Tybee Island earlier Friday as increasingly heavy rains at high tide threatened to flood the only road to the mainland.
The U.S. Coast Guard has also closed the Port of Charleston as Hurricane Matthew approaches South Carolina. The agency says no vessels may leave Charleston or enter the port. The storm is expected to hit the Florida-Georgia line early Friday afternoon.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says the forecast for the state appears to have gotten worse: There are now hurricane warnings for the entire coast and the latest projections from the National Hurricane Center show the center of the storm very close to the coast near Charleston early Saturday morning. Earlier projections had the hurricane farther offshore.
At a news conference Friday, Haley warned residents that South Carolina is now looking at major winds, major storm surges, and flooding that could compare to the historic floods of last October. Power outages are also expected.
Haley said an estimated 310,000 people have now fled from coastal areas and said “this is the last time you will hear my voice when I am asking you to evacuate.” She said everybody along the coast needs to consider getting inland.
As the storm moves away from Florida, homeowners and emergency crews are going back home to assess the damage. The National Weather Service office in Melbourne reported wind gusts as strong as 107 mph Friday morning. All causeways to the barrier islands and beachside communities remained closed for the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct assessments of the bridges for structural integrity.
Aerials from West Palm Beach, Fla. Friday morning showed overall little damage to structures.