The center of Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 3 storm, was about 25 miles east of Cape Canaveral at 6 a.m. local time on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said, with gusts of wind up to 100 mile per hour in the city as the deadly hurricane heads up the Florida coast at about 14 mph. Already, more than 300,000 people are without power in Florida, according to Florida Power & Light, and the state is buckling down for about 12 hours of terrible weather and storm surges as high as 10 feet. At least 3.1 million people are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, and President Obama declared states of emergency in all three states on Thursday.
At 5 a.m., Daytona Beach already had 40 mph winds and torrential downpours, but the eye of the hurricane isn’t supposed to hit the area until about 2 p.m., Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood tells Fox News. “This is the beginning of the beginning,” he said, and emergency personnel are especially worried about the storm surge, which he said could be as high as 12 feet. “It’s going to be like a flash flood, from what they’re telling us,” Chitwood said. “You may see nothing now, and in a matter of minutes you can have 7, 6, 5 feet of water.” When the storm surge hits, he added, police “are basically going to be on lockdown on high ground…. We won’t be able to get to you. That’s what the importance was of evacuating.” Watch Chitwood’s interview, and the scene from Daytona Beach nine hours before the eye of the hurricane hits, below. Peter Weber