Floridians are bracing for the worst as the record-breaking Hurricane Matthew approaches the Southeast U.S. after claiming at least 142 lives in Haiti and nearby countries.
Matthew, one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the region in recent years, carried wind speeds as high as 140 miles per hour as it whipped through the Caribbean this week. It’s currently rated a Category 4 hurricane, the second highest possible strength, and is expected to remain so as it approaches Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Thursday afternoon.
Haiti has so far borne the brunt of the storm and confirmed 136 deaths, Reuters reported. Many citizens of the largely impoverished country have been cut off from aid and storm information due to the collapse of a bridge crucial to linking the capital Port-au-Prince and the hard-hit southern peninsula.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Florida, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Evacuation orders have gone into effect in Florida, as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
See photos below of the devastation and disaster preparation: