Gov. Scott warns of 'potentially catastrophic storm'

Posted at 8:43 AM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 14:31:49-04

Gov. Rick Scott is holding multiple news conferences Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida.

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  • Scott’s first media briefing was held at 9 a.m. in Tallahassee.
  • His second news conference was held at 1 p.m. in Fort Pierce at the St Lucie County Emergency Operations Center.
  • At 3 p.m., Scott will head north to Brevard County and speak at the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center.
  • Finally, he will be in north Florida to speak at the Duval County Emergency Operations Center in Jacksonville at 5:40 p.m.

Scott on Wednesday morning warned people along Florida's East Coast that they have less than 24 hours to prepare for the possible landfall of powerful and deadly Hurricane Matthew.

With the slow-moving path of Matthew forecast to run along the coast from late Thursday to early Saturday, Scott said he was awaiting updated evacuation orders from coastal counties and that even if the storm remains offshore, tropical-storm force winds will extend into the state.

"Our number one priority is protecting lives," Scott said after an update at the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "The storm has already killed multiple people (in other countries), and we should expect the same impact in Florida if people do not take this seriously."

Matthew, already credited with at least 11 deaths after crushing through Cuba and Haiti with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, was heading for the central and northwest Bahamas on Wednesday morning.

Maximum wind speed for the storm was down to 115 mph, still a major Category 3 system.

Scott said Florida will experience heavy rains, rip currents, beach erosion, tornadoes and hurricane-force winds.

"We all have to work together to make sure we don't lose one life," Scott said. "Remember, this is a potentially catastrophic storm."

The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings from north of Golden Beach to Sebastian Inlet and for Lake Okeechobee, with a hurricane watch in place from north of Sebastian Inlet to Fernandina Beach.

A tropical-storm warning is in place in the Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge east.

All road projects have been suspended on interstates and evacuation routes. Scott said a decision may be pending to lift tolls in the state.

Scott has also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard, calling up 300 on Wednesday, while 6,000 remain ready for deployment.

Scott said sporadic reports of fuel shortages are exaggerated.

"We're hearing of a couple of places where there are some fuel shortages, but it's at the station level," Scott said. "We have plenty of fuel."

Using his newfound experience from Hurricane Hermine hitting northern Florida last month, Scott has also been working to ensure more cooperation between electric utilities.

"One thing I saw was that the utilities, the co-ops worked with the co-ops, the municipals work with municipals and the big publicly traded (utilities) worked with each other," Scott said. "My goal is, we had a call yesterday, I want them all to work together."

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