Friday morning the National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Pender, Brunswick and New Hanover counties.
After a night of widespread power outages in Florida, 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 Haleysaid 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 high water, in the form of 8-foot storm surges, inundating barrier islands and bringing life-threatening flooding to historic Charleston.
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 the city of Charleston.
As of 11 a.m. ET Friday, the hurricane, downgraded slightly to a Category 3, was located 35 miles east northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla., moving northwest at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Matthew continued to pack sustained winds up to 120 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 says 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.
In Georgia, more than 500,000 people fled the coastal areas for the interior and thousands sought refuge at shelters.
Officials in Glynn County, along the coast, warn of widespread devastation on St Simons and Jekyll Islands from what they it call a "1 in 500-year storm surge event" with a 9-foot wall of water carrying 25-foot waves.
“Under the current forecast, total devastation of the barrier islands is possible and portions of F.J. Torras Causeway and Jekyll Island Causeway may be completely lost,” county officials say in a statement.
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