MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott says time is running out for residents in evacuation zones as Hurricane Matthew moves nearer to the state’s east coast.
The governor met with National Hurricane Center officials ar around 5:15 p.m. and his tune hasn’t changed.
“We are already starting to see the impacts, and it’s a monster,” he said.
The hurricane is making its way into South and Central Florida Thursday night. He urged residents to have their phones on them for important alerts, including tornado advisories.
“If you are Brevard County or north, and in an evacuation zone, you still have time to leave,” he said. “Get out.”
Earlier, he kept repeating, “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”
The governor suspended tolls so not to cause traffic during evacuations. So far, tolls have been suspended on the Florida Turnpike, Alligator Alley, Central Florida Expressway Authority, and Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.
For those who do not want to leave, Scott urged them to reconsider.
“If you’re reluctant to evacuate, just think of all the people the storm has already killed,” said Scott.
Around 1.5 million people are under evacuation orders, according to the governor.
His plea comes as parts of the state are under Hurricane Warnings and Watches. As of Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Matthew had strengthened again to a category 4 with about 125 mph winds.
“We are going to have a catastrophic storm whether it’s a direct impact or not,” said Scott. “We have not had a storm like this on the East coast for a long time.”
While it remains unclear if Florida will get a direct hit by Hurricane Matthew, Scott said no one should take a chance especially since Florida’s coast will begin to feel the effects sometime around noon.
“Only a small deviation in the forecast track to the West could bring the center of the storm to us,” said Scott.”The storm will kill you. We don’t have much time left.”
The governor said due to recent forecasts, he has called on an additional 1,000 members of the National Guard to help those in need. This means 3,500 members are ready to go. Despite that Scott, says it should not push people to not leave if they are in an evacuation zone.
“We should not put peoples lives at risk because you made the foolish decision not to evacuate,” said Scott.
As for the effects of the storm, residents should be ready to lose power.
“If you are on the East Coast, you are going to lose power. Millions will lose power, possibly for a long period of time,” said Scott.
Shelters are open throughout the state including in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County.
On a federal level, President Barack Obama has declared there is a state of emergency in Florida and approved federal aid to help the state cope with the effects of Hurricane Matthew in 26 counties.
Scott is urging county emergency officials to contact him for any problems they might have.
For those wanting to get updates from the State Emergency Response team, text FLPREPARES to 888 777.