Hurricane Matthew: Nearly 300 Dead as President Obama Declares Emergency in South Carolina
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina on Thursday as almost 300 people lost their lives following Hurricane Matthew’s rampage through Haiti.
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.”
“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.
Bases in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina are collecting resources to help close affected areas, according to Fugate. As of Thursday morning, there were more than 414,000 liters of water, more than 513,700 meals and more than 20,600 cots in both locations.
Earlier on Thursday, Obama also made the declaration for Florida, which authorized the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate their efforts to protect lives, property and help those suffering from damage caused by Matthew, according to the Associated Press.
The president spoke by phone with each of the governors in states preparing for the hurricane, which include Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Matthew, the most powerful storm to head for the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade, closed in on Florida with winds of 140 mph on Thursday evening as a Category 4 storm.
Officials from Florida to South Carolina urged about 2 million people to evacuate. An estimated 3,500 Florida National Guard members were activated by Scott to assist in any rescues and recovery missions.
“This hurricane has already taken a devastating toll on Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and countries in the Caribbean,” the statement read. “We know that many people who didn’t have a lot to begin with have lost almost everything. More than 100 people have lost their lives, and so many more are in need of substantial help.”
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.
The aftermath of Matthew is a bleak reminder of the 2010 devastation that Haiti experienced following an earthquake. The hurricane has further delayed the Haitian presidential election that was set for Sunday in a country of 11 million people.
There has been no word on when the election will be rescheduled, according to the New York Times. The current government is an interim administration that was set to be replaced in Sunday’s vote.