Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc on Florida’s east coast

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UPDATE: Florida gov: ‘The worst part … yet to come’

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — 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.

Two million people had been told to move inland to escape the storm, which left more than 280 dead in the Caribbean. But many stayed where they were, and hoped for the best. Authorities say some of them are now stranded and have called for help — but they’ve been told to stay put until conditions improve and emergency crews can reach them.

Rain from hurricane reaches South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — 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.

International Red Cross appeals for aid

GENEVA (AP) — 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.

UPDATE: 4,500 flights canceled for storm; South Florida airports open

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 cancelled 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 cancelations with Atlanta, Charleston and Savannah taking the largest hits.

Airports in Southern Florida are reopening, however, with flights expected to resume 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.

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