Hurricane Matthew Reaches Category 4 Status, Barreling Toward Florida

Florida's governor is urging citizens to heed evacuation orders.

Published Oct. 6, 2016

Florida lawmakers are urging citizens to obey evacuation orders as Hurricane Matthew bears down on the Atlantic coast.

Twelve counties in Florida are under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, while some areas in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina will be affected, according to A total of 1.5 million people in the storm's path have been told to evacuate. Governor Rick Scott urged Floridians to head the warnings in an official statement:

Time is up. You have to evacuate now if you are in an evacuation zone. To everyone on Florida’s east coast, if you are reluctant to evacuate, just think of all the people the Hurricane has already killed. You and your family could be among these numbers if you don’t take this seriously.

According to utility provider Florida Power and Light, 2.5 million customers were already without power on 6 October 2016, the hours before the worst of the storm hit the state.

Sen. Marco Rubio also urged Floridians to get out of the storm's way, saying it's stronger than Hurricane Katrina, a disaster that resulted in the deaths of 2,000 residents:

To put Matthew’s deadliness in perspective, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 as a category three hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles an hour, and it resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 Americans in seven states. Hurricane Matthew is currently a much stronger and far more dangerous category four storm. Florida has not seen a hurricane like this in a very long time.

Walt Disney World will be closing down in preparation for landfall by Hurricane Matthew, which is currently a Category 4 storm. The park's closure will start on the evening of 6 October 2016 and continue into the next day, according to its official web site.

Federal response and National Guard personnel have been activated.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.