USA Today – Doug Stanglin and James Dean
Members of the United Fellowship Ministries International Church hold an impromptu prayer service in the destroyed remains of their church in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach near Nassau, Bahamas Oct. 7, 2016.
BreakingNews.com has live coverage of Hurricane Matthew, click to view
As Florida struggled with growing widespread power outages, Hurricane Matthew pushed slowly northward Friday, prompting officials to extend a hurricane warning into North Carolina and to issue blunt warnings of possible deadly flooding in South Carolina, including the city of Charleston.
“There is nothing safe about what is getting ready to happen,” South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said Friday. “This is the last time you will hear my voice when I am asking you to evacuate. We need everybody to consider evacuating and take this very seriously.”
South Carolina officials were particularly worried about the threat of storm surges as high as 8-feet on barrier islands and historic Charleston.
Charleston’s police chief announced a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew for Friday to protect the public from the high tide expected at 1 a.m. “We do not want to deal with individuals who get themselves trapped out in this severe situation,” Chief Greg Mullen said.
Of the 500,000 people instructed to leave low-lying coastal areas, Haley said that more than 300,000 people had pulled out. Many of those who didn’t, she said, were on Daniel Island, a 4,000-acre area on the east bank of the Cooper River in Charleston.
As of 2 p.m. ET Friday, the Category 3 was located 40 miles east southeast of St. Augustine, Fla., moving northwest at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Matthew continued to pack sustained winds up to 115 mph, threatening devastating storm surges in a four-state area.
As the hurricane trekked northward, the hurricane center extended the hurricane warning as far as Surf City, N.C. In addition, a hurricane watch has been posted for north of Surf City to Cape Lookout.
In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory warns of heavy rains at or near the coast and power outages from strong winds. He said the National Guard and emergency equipment, including high-water vehicles and swift-water rescue teams, are being assembled as the storm track closer to the state.