MIAMI (AP) — With Hurricane Matthew moving over the Caribbean, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all Florida counties Monday.
Scott canceled Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting to visit the state’s emergency operations centers along the state’s East coast.. He wants to make sure counties are prepared if the storm moves toward Florida, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
“Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening category four hurricane and we must all take it seriously," Scott said in a statement. "If Hurricane Matthew directly impacts Florida, there could be massive destruction which we haven’t seen since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County in 1992. That is why we cannot delay and must prepare for direct impact now.
"Today, I signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in every Florida county to ensure we have resources for evacuations, sheltering and other logistical needs across our state. We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best and we will not take any chances to ensure our state is prepared.
Matthew was a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The hurricane was centered about 195 miles (315 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. The center was expected to approach the southwestern tip of Haiti on Monday night, head to eastern Cuba late Tuesday, and move over parts of the Bahamas on Tuesday night and Wednesday, the center said.
Coast Guard officials set “port condition whiskey” for ports in southeastern Florida: Ports and facilities currently remain open to all commercial traffic, but all oceangoing vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons should start making plans to leave the port, officials said in a news release.
Vessels seeking to stay in the port should contact the captain at each facility to receive permission, according to the release, which also warned pleasure boat owners to seek safe harbor.
In addition, the Coast Guard warned mariners to heed weather watches, warnings, and small craft advisories and to monitor the progress of the storm through local TV, internet, and radio.