(CN) – Hundreds of people who refused to evacuate from central Florida’s Atlantic coast in advance of Hurricane Matthew are calling for help as the eyewall of the powerful, Category 3 storm brushes by Cape Canaveral and bears down on Jacksonville.
The storm has already left more than 280 dead in its wake in the Caribbean, and officials said that as of 6 a.m. Friday, more than 516,930 people in Florida were without power. Among those without power is Courthouse News reporter Marilyn Aciego, who said the number of people without power in central Florida alone has now reached over 300,000.
Shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, monitors at the Kennedy Space Center reported a sustained wind gust of 100 miles per hour.
About a third of those without electricity are located in central Florida, according to Brevard County Emergency Operations spokesman David Waters.
Mandatory evacuation orders had been issued for about 90,000 people living on barrier islands, in mobile homes and low-lying areas, and even without a direct landfall, flooding rains and Matthew’s storm surge have cut those who opted to stay off from the mainland.
Waters said one family that called police reported that the roof “just flew off their home on Merritt Island,” about 9 miles south of Cape Canaveral.
Other families have called and said, “We’re scared. We wish we hadn’t stayed,” Waters said.
For now, those people will have to be alone with their fears. Law enforcement and emergency service protocol is that once winds reach 45 miles per hour, first responders are pulled off the street for their own safety.
Waters said those who refused to evacuation will have to stay put and do the best they can on their own until conditions improve and police, firefighters and paramedics can be dispatched to them.
Just how bad things were in the area Friday morning was evident from the fact that even Brevard County’s emergency operations center had lost power and is currently running a backup generator.
In addition to having no electricity, those who stayed on the barrier islands also have to contend with having no fresh water. Officials cut the water supply to them last night in order to avoid contributing to flooding if the system got damaged by Matthew’s fury.
Meanwhile, the International Red Cross on Friday announced an emergency appeal for $6.9 million to provide medical aid, shelter, water, and sanitation to 50,000 people in southwestern Haiti, which was decimated by Matthew. – Developing story.
Traffic stacks up on I-75 North fleeing the coast and Hurricane Matthew on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, near McDonough. FEMA officials said Thursday that crews were deployed to emergency operation centers in Albany, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The agency says more than 444,000 liters of water and 513,000 meals along with thousands of cots and blankets will be on site.(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Families, with their bags packed, arrive to be checked into the shelter at North Charleston High School in North Charleston, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in advance of Hurricane Matthew. (Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP)
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