The powerful hurricane was just south of the Bahamas and headed for Florida as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Atlantic coast is braced for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, a deadly storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour expected to make landfall on Thursday.
The NY Times reports that the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have declared emergencies, and more than 7,800 National Guard soldiers were activated or placed on alert.
On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned citizens that they had 24 hours to get ready for the hurricane’s arrival.
“We have to be prepared to be hit by a catastrophic hurricane,” Scott warned at a news briefing at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee Wednesday morning.
He said the storm was packing enough strength to cause the kind of “massive destruction we haven’t seen in years” and pleaded with residents to start leaving now before traffic backs up.
“We have less than 24 hours left to prepare, evacuate and shelter,” he said. “Having a plan in place would be the difference of life and death.”
CNN reports that the National Hurricane Center isn’t saying that Matthew will make landfall in Florida, but the cnter of the storm will get very near the Atlantic Coast. As of Wednesday afternoon, the storm was 70 miles south of the Bahamas, and 400 miles from West Palm Beach, Florida.