Expected to be the worst storm to hit the United States in over a decade, its 115 mph winds and 12-ft. storm surges caused Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all to declare states of emergencies.
While an estimated 3 million residents have already fled the coastline areas, Smith — like President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott — took the airwaves on Thursday to urge residents who were thinking of staying behind to evacuate.
He just did so in his own, terrifying way.
“This moves 20 miles to the west, you and everyone you know are dead,” Smith said. “All of you — and your kids die, too.”
He was equally harsh with Palm Beach Gardens, Florida resident Dolores Berhalter, a longtime friend of his who decided she wasn’t going to be evacuating from her home in the Sunshine State.
“I’m hoping it’s not going to be as serious as they’re saying,” Berhalter explained to Smith. “We’re fairly well-protected here.”
“They were hopeful in South Miami-Dade and Kendall and Homestead back when Andrew [hit],” he replied. “They were very, very hopeful ― until they were dead.”
“Hope is not a strategy, Dolores!” he added. “What are you going to do if Monday you still don’t have any power? Do you have a plan? Are the cops coming around and making you sign a list so they know how to notify next of kin?”
Earlier in the interview, he teased his interview with Berhalter saying he would ask her if “she expected us to cover her funeral.”
Smith’s words were met with a mixed reaction on Twitter — some praising him for trying to knock sense into any stubborn people and others questioning his morbid scare tactics.
The White House and Craig Fugate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, released a statement to PEOPLE on Thursday saying Matthew is “a dangerous storm.”
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“Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in effect. If you live in these areas, please listen to the directions of your state, tribal, and local officials. If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait. You can always repair and rebuild — and we’ll be here to help you do that. The most important thing you can do is keep you and your family safe,” the statement read.
The Haitian government raised their death toll on Thursday after from Hurricane Matthew, according to the New York Times. Officials said that at least 283 people died instead of the initial half-dozen or so reported.