The Latest: Little time to get out of coastal Georgia before Matthew arrives

President says he's concerned about storm surge

Hurricane Matthew Georgia
Alec Manning drills holes into plywood to cover the windows of a business during storm preparations for Hurricane Matthew, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Darien, Ga. The hurricane picked up steam as it closed in, growing from a Category 3 to a Category 4 storm by late morning. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

Officials on the Georgia coast are warning that time is running out to flee Hurricane Matthew.

Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones told a news conference in Savannah on Friday morning that people had just a few more hours before powerful winds start hitting. He said “Once the wind starts blowing, we’re pulling all emergency services off the street.” 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.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman was taking names of people believed to remain on the island and had police officers calling them. Buelterman attributed some people’s complacency to the fact that the area hasn’t had a major storm for some time.

He remarked: “This is what happens when you don’t get hit by a hurricane for 100 years.”

Tybee Island resident Jeff Dickey had been holding out hope that the forecast might shift and spare his waterfront home, but by Friday morning Matthew was still on track to hug the Georgia coast, so he decided not to take any chances.

With soaking rain from Matthew’s outer bands already falling, he loaded a diesel-powered generator into his pickup truck.

Most of the island’s 3,000 residents had evacuated over the past two days. Dickey, his mother and his two daughters were among several last-minute evacuees leaving Tybee Island early Friday.


11:15 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed the Port of Charleston as Hurricane Matthew approaches South Carolina. The agency says no vessels may leave Charleston or enter the port.

The Coast Guard also announced that its smaller boats have been removed from the water and larger ones have moved to safe harbor.

The Coast Guard said it will be suspending search-and-rescue missions during the height of the storm and its helicopters will not be flying.

Tropical storm force winds are expected to be felt along the South Carolina coast later Friday.


11:15 a.m.

Senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila says Hurricane Matthew’s most intense winds have fortunately remained “a short distance offshore,” but Florida’s coast isn’t in the clear yet.

The hurricane center says the western eyewall, where the most intense winds are found, was expected to cross over or very near the coasts of northeastern Florida and Georgia on Friday.

Avila noted that it would take “only a small deviation to the left” to bring the winds onshore.

Avila said people riding out the storm in high-rise buildings will experience stronger winds than people sheltering at ground level. At the top of a 30-story building, Matthew’s winds could reach speeds of 130 mph or more — Category 4 strength, even if the hurricanes winds at the surface only sustain Category 3 strength.

Forecasters say storm surge and inland flooding remain potentially life-threatening hazards even if Matthew remains offshore.

11 a.m.

President Barack Obama is warning that Matthew is “still a really dangerous hurricane.”

Meeting in the Oval Office on Friday with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Obama said he was concerned about storm surge and that as the hurricane moves north, areas such as Jacksonville, Florida, and Georgia might be less prepared.

Obama told those living in affected areas that, “If they tell you to evacuate, you need to get out of there and move to higher ground.”

He noted that “because storm surge can move very quickly … people can think that they’re out of the woods and then suddenly get hit, and not be in a positon in which they and their families are safe.”

The president pleaded with people to listen to the warnings of state emergency personnel “because we can always replace property, but we cannot replace lives.”


10:45 a.m.

Hurricane Matthew continues to cause problems for travelers, with 4,500 flights canceled so far between Wednesday and Saturday, according to tracking service FlightAware.

All flights to and from Orlando have been canceled Friday and half scrapped Saturday. FlightAware expects that number to rise. Orlando’s world-famous theme parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — all closed due to the storm.

As the storm moves north, so do cancellations, with Atlanta, Charleston and Savannah taking the largest hits.

Airports in Southern Florida are reopening, however, with flights expected to resume at midday. Airlines moved planes and crews out of the storm’s path and must now fly them back into the region.

American Airlines saw its first arrival at its Miami hub at 9:05 a.m. with a flight from Sao Paulo.


10:30 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is cautioning Floridians that Hurricane Matthew could still do substantial damage before it passes by the northeast end of the state.

Scott on Friday warned that while the main eye of the storm has remained offshore as it brushes the eastern coast, it could still bring tremendous damage and flooding, especially to low-lying areas along the St. Johns River, including downtown Jacksonville.

Scott said the hurricane “still has time to do a direct hit” and he remarked that “the worst part of this is yet to come.”

Hurricane Matthew approached the state overnight, bringing damaging winds and lots of rain. State officials said that as of 9 a.m. there were nearly 600,000 people without power. Some of the hardest hit counties were Brevard, Indian River and Volusia, where more than half of the customers in those counties were without power.

State officials during an internal emergency management briefing said they anticipated that more than 1 million Floridians could eventually be without power.


10:15 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he’s worried about current projections of HurricaneMatthew that show the storm could lead to heavier rains than previously estimated at or near the coast and power outages from high winds.

McCrory said Friday morning that rainfall totals could exceed a foot in parts of southeastern North Carolina, with the most activity Friday night through Sunday morning. He said in a storm media briefing that wind gusts could push above 65 mph and that citizens should be prepared to remain without electricity for some time because utilities may have to focus first on other affected regions.

He says the North Carolina National Guard and emergency equipment are being assembled, including high-water vehicles and swift-water rescue teams. The state also is providing a helicopter rescue team and other resources to South Carolina. McCrory says a mobile hospital unit is ready to go to Florida when it’s safe to do so.

At Fort Bragg, soldiers are prepared to deploy on short notice if they are called to assist those who suffer from damage or other problems because of the hurricane.


9:50 a.m.

Humans aren’t the only ones hunkering down as Hurricane Matthew batters Florida. A stork has apparently found refuge in a zoo bathroom.

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park has shared a photo of a marabou stork inside a bathroom at the facility. The zoo’s Facebook page jokes in the caption, “no species discrimination in this bathroom!”

The stork isn’t the only animal taking cover from the storm. The zoo also shared photos of young alligators swimming indoors in plastic tubs and other birds walking around freely inside a building.

The zoo says it has moved all of its birds and mammals inside.


9:30 a.m.

Georgia transportation officials are closing a bridge that is one of the main routes between the mainland and the barrier islands off Brunswick in anticipation of high winds from HurricaneMatthew.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said in a news release that the Sidney Lanier Bridge would close at 10 a.m. Friday and would remain closed at least until strong winds subside.

The state’s tallest cable-stayed suspension bridge, the Sidney Lanier Bridge is a primary route to the Golden Isles — including Jekyll Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island and Little St. Simons Island — from Interstate 95.

Transportation officials say high winds, particularly at the bridge’s elevation, would likely make it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles, so the bridge is being closed for the safety of the public.


9:30 a.m.

Winds from Hurricane Matthew blew off the door of Darrell Etheridge’s garage and tore down the banister to his upstairs neighbor’s apartment, but the Vero Beach resident said the storm was no big deal.

Etheridge stayed in his apartment about two blocks from the ocean during the storm.

He said the winds howling “sounded like a pack of wolves,” but added, “I got off damn good.”

There was no flooding and he had power for most of the night Thursday, only losing cable TV.

As he put it, “It was nothing. It felt like nothing.”

Vero Beach is south of the Melbourne/Cape Canaveral area.


9:15 a.m.

Early Friday, NASA reported what appeared to be mostly minor damage at Kennedy Space Center.

An office building suffered some roof damage, and parked cars had damage as well.

NASA spokesman George Diller, part of the 116-person ride out crew, said there have been some spotty power outages on site, and loss of air conditioning and water pressure in places.


9 a.m.

A sheriff’s spokesman says hundreds of callers are dialing 911 as Hurricane Matthew pounds central Florida’s coastline.

Volusia County Sheriff’s spokesman Gary Davidson says at least four callers reported trees falling onto their homes in the Daytona Beach area after 7:30 a.m. Friday.

In one case, Davidson says a neighbor told dispatchers that the family got out safely after a tree collapsed on a home in Daytona Beach.

Another caller reported ceiling damage after a tree fell onto a house in nearby Ormond Beach.

No injuries were reported in any of these cases.


8:45 a.m.

Rains from the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew are already spinning onto the South Carolina coast. And the National Weather Service says that tropical storm force winds of more than 40 mph will begin raking the coast on Friday afternoon – extending farther into inland areas Friday evening.

Although Matthew is projected to stay offshore, sustained hurricane gusts of 80 mph are expected on the immediate coast. Forecasters say winds from the storm likely will damage trees and weaker structures and bring widespread power outages.

The forecast calls for between 8 and 14 inches of rain in places along the coast with as much as 4 inches in locations father inland. Dangerous waves and rip currents are expected along the coast during the storm with storm surge of 4 to 8 feet.

Meanwhile Joint Base Charleston has been closed until further notice the hurricane approaches. The base consists of Charleston Air Force Base, the Charleston Naval Weapons station and two other facilities near Charleston.


8:20 a.m.

The time has been set for the Georgia-South Carolina football game in Columbia on Sunday that was rescheduled because of the threat of Hurricane Matthew.

South Carolina officials announced late Thursday that the game will be played at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The game had been scheduled Saturday night in Columbia but is being delayed because of Hurricane Matthew.

School officials say they consulted with Georgia and the Southeastern Conference before making the decision.

Officials say they are consulting with the governor’s office and state and local law enforcement. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said earlier this week that state troopers would not be available to help with traffic for the game. But Richland County sheriff’s deputies and Columbia police are expected to help.

The school says it will be able to handle traffic, security and other game day operations.


8 a.m.

Robert Tyler had feared a storm surge flooding his street, which is only two blocks from the Cape Canaveral beach.

But he and his wife, Georgette, felt fortunate Friday morning when they looked out the front door of their one-story cinder block apartment and there wasn’t much water.

The oak trees held up. Tree branches littered the road and he could hear the transformers blowing up overnight. But his home didn’t appear to have damage on first inspection and his vehicles were unharmed.

He says it was “scary as heck” overnight, adding that at one point “it felt like the windows were going to blow even though they all were covered with plywood.”

In the end, he says he’s just “glad we didn’t hear the ocean coming down our street.”


7:25 a.m.

Officials say people who refused to evacuate from central Florida’s Atlantic coast are calling for help now as Hurricane Matthew’s western eyewall brushes past Cape Canaveral.

Brevard County Emergency Operations spokesman David Waters said early Friday that more than 100,000 people in the area had lost power.

Mandatory evacuation orders had been issued for 90,000 people living on barrier islands and in mobile homes and low-lying areas. Waters says some residents who refused to leave now find themselves cut off as they face the worst of the hurricane.

He says a family called in that the roof “just flew off their home on Merritt Island.”

Waters says people will just have to stay put for now and do the best they can until conditions improve and paramedics and firefighters can be dispatched to help them. He spoke by phone from the county’s emergency operations center, which was running a backup generator because it had lost electricity.

Along with the power outages, the water supply to the barrier islands was cut off to avoid compounding the storm flooding if the system got damaged.

Waters says he has talked to other families who have said things like, “We’re scared. We wish we hadn’t stayed.”

More than 360,000 in Florida are without power Friday morning.

6:10 a.m.

The western edge of Hurricane Matthew’s eyewall is brushing Florida’s coast at Cape Canaveral.

The National Hurricane Center said at 6 a.m. EDT Friday that during the last hour, a wind gust of 100 mph occurred in Cape Canaveral.

The Category 3 storm is centered about 25 miles east of Cape Canaveral and is moving north-northwest at 14 mph.

More than 300,000 in Florida are without power Friday morning.


5:45 a.m.

In Geneva, the international Red Cross announced an emergency appeal for $6.9 million Friday to provide medical aid, shelter, water, and sanitation assistance to 50,000 people in southwestern Haiti, which was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew.

UNICEF says it needs $5 million to meet children’s immediate needs in Haiti.

The World Food Program said it has enough food on the ground for 300,000 people for a month, and was deploying its best logisticians to help distribute it.

Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean and is now battering Florida’s east coast with high winds and rain.


5:05 a.m.

Hurricane Matthew is just offshore of Florida’s east coast Friday morning.

But the National Hurricane Center says the Category 3 storm’s western eyewall is approaching Cape Canaveral with hurricane-force winds.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Friday, Matthew is centered about 40 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral and is moving north-northwest near 13 mph.

More than 270,000 in Florida are without power.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.


4 a.m.

The western edge of Hurricane Matthew’s eyewall is approaching Cape Canaveral early Friday as the storm batters Florida’s coast with howling wind and driving rain.

The Category 3 storm is threatening to make a direct hit on Florida as it moves up the coast.

But even though the eye is still off-shore, Florida is already seeing strong winds. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says sustained winds of 46 mph and a gust of 70 mph have been reported in Melbourne, Florida.

More than 240,000 in Florida are without power.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.


2:20 a.m.

Hurricane Matthew’s howling wind and driving rain pummeled Florida early Friday, starting what’s expected to be a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast. The strongest winds were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline.

Matthew weakened slightly Friday morning to a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph. But the U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves closer to Florida’s coast.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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