“I can’t send in first responders to save you in the middle of the storm.”
Hurricane Matthew approached the coast of Florida Friday morning and was expected to make landfall imminently, as the National Weather Service and local authorities issued dire warnings.
While the storm has been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, it clocked sustained maximum winds of 120 miles per-hour with gusts even higher.
“I can’t send in first responders to save you in the middle of the storm. You’ve got to act responsibly and take care of yourself and your family,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents in an interview with CBS Friday.
More than 20,000 people had evacuated their homes in Florida to some 150 shelters, and thousands of national guardsmen were on site, according to the same report.
The storm came to Florida from Haiti, where it decimated the island, leaving several hundred people dead. The Associated Press reported a confirmed 283 deaths, while Reuters put the death toll at 478, citing information from local officials.
Airlines have canceled thousands of flights nationwide in anticipation of the storm, with American Airlines canceling 1,200 flights and Delta canceling over 200, ABC News reported. The Ft. Lauderdale International Airport closed Friday—the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Florida attractions including Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios closed ahead of the storm. It was just the fourth time that Disney World has closed since its opening in 1971.
The National Weather Service predicted that the hurricane would move to South Carolina by Friday night and into Saturday, with up to 6 feet of flooding in parts of South Carolina and Florida.
“There is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida east coast, the Georgia coast, and the South Carolina coast from Jupiter Inlet, Florida, to South Santee River, South Carolina,” the National Weather Service warned in an advisory issued Friday morning.