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UPDATE: Thousands Remain Without Power As Orange County Lifts Curfew

Central Florida Death Attributed To Storm

Authorities say a falling tree killed one person in Volusia County.

Officials are urging people to avoid unnecessary travel as traffic signals may be out and some bridges are still closed.

Volusia County’s curfew is still in place until 7 a.m. Saturday.

240,000 residents or about 46 percent of the community was without power.

4:30 p.m. UPDATE

Some 65,000 Orange County residents are without power as Hurricane Matthew took a glancing blow overnight to central Florida’s coast.

Another 1,400 are in shelters. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says the storm could have been worse.

“I don’t think there was a point until sometime in the wee hours of the morning that I started to really believe that we had dodged this bullet.”

Lynx service slowly is resuming, and a curfew keeping people indoors has been lifted.

Authorities say six people were arrested while the curfew was underway, including two who were attempting burglaries.

3:30 p.m. UPDATE

Flagler County cut off all access to beachside areas as Hurricane Matthew continued to track north along the East Coast of Florida.

Flagler County Emergency Manager Steve Garten said no one will be allowed to enter the barrier island.

 “This will be enforced by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office,” said Garten in a statement.

Emergency personnel will enter the area to rescue people who did not leave the coast.

Part of State Road A1A washed out south of the pier in Flagler Beach near the Topaz.

A curfew will be imposed on the mainland portions of Flagler County at 7 p.m. tonight. Residents are being asked to stay inside where they are and off of the roadways.

Florida Hospital Flagler evacuated patients.

Volusia County is also being buffeted by strong winds from Hurricane Matthew

Volusia County can expect to continue to have tropical storm force winds until early Saturday morning. The county’s advising people to shelter where they are for the remainder of the storm.

Seminole County and Orange County have lifted their curfews, but drivers are being warned to take care on the roads.

As of 3 p.m. More than 1 million customers across the state of Florida were without power. 92% of Volusia County residents- 257,000 customers- were without power.

More than half of Brevard County – 196,000 customers-  were without power. More than 18,000 customers in Orlando were without power. And 100% of Flagler county was without power according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

1:30 p.m. UPDATE

The mandatory curfew for Orange County is lifting at 2 p.m.

The county is warning residents to be vigilant as power lines, trees and other hazards may not have been cleared.

Teams are out assessing the damage from Hurricane Matthew. Most of the traffic signals in the county are working.

As of 1 p.m. 65,355 Orange County residents were still without power.

At 1 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said Matthew was about 25 miles E.N.E of Ormond Beach, with sustained winds of 120 mph.

An 83 mph wind gust was recorded at Flagler Beach.

Volusia County told residents to expect Tropical Storm force winds until early Saturday morning. Residents are advised to shelter where they are until the storm passes. FDOT and Volusia County officials will inspect bridges from the mainland to the beachside for damage and reopening once Hurricane Matthew clears.

Gas stations are beginning to re-open in Orange County.

Justin Esasky  is the general manager of the WAWA gas station on Colonial Drive and Chickasaw Road, which reopened at 1 p.m.

“We had people waiting at the pumps, waiting outside,” Esasky said. “Our main reason for opening is to serve our local community, especially first responders.”

 

1:15 p.m. UPDATE

Thousands of central Floridians remain without power as Hurricane Matthew continues to move north along the east coast.

 

Florida Power & Light

Brevard County—195,850 without power

Seminole County-  23,820 without power

Volusia County- 166, 820 without power

Orange County-  10 without power

Osceola County- 10 without power

 

Duke Energy

Seminole County– 42,168 without power

Orange County- 44,806 without power

Osceola County-  632 without power

Volusia County– 54,228 without power

Lake County– 6,069 without power

 

Seco Energy

Lake County– 4,369 without power

 

12:15 p.m. UPDATE

Water managers are considering increasing flows to coastal estuaries as Hurricane Matthew dumps rain on an already swollen Lake Okeechobee.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says the “possibility is very real” that flows will increase to coastal estuaries from the state’s largest lake.

John Campbell says water managers are monitoring Lake Okeechobee’s condition and also the earthen dike surrounding it. He says there is no early sign of damage to the dike.

Wet weather has forced large discharges of excess polluted water from the lake to coastal estuaries for most of the year. Historically the water flowed south through the Everglades.

The discharges triggered toxic algae blooms this summer in the Indian River Lagoon and elsewhere, prompting emergency declarations in multiple counties.

Campbell says it’s possible flows will increase to the highest level allowed.

10:15 a.m. UPDATE

Heath First Hospital’s three open hospitals have no major damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Officials have not, however, been able to check on Cape Canaveral Hospital in Merritt Island, which was evacuated before the storm. The causeways to the barrier islands are still closed down until the Florida Department of Transportation can evaluate the bridges, which likely will not happen until later tonight or tomorrow.

Both Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital are on generator power, but officials say that was done as a hedge, and the hospital will hook back up the Florida Power and Light’s grid once the all clear is given.

Health First did not get any emergency patients during the storm, but hospital officials are getting ready to staff up the emergency room after the storm. Officials said, from experience, they see an influx of patients to the ER when the storms clear.

Two babies were born at Holmes Regional Medical Center last night. No word on if they will be named Matthew.

Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach had some water leak in through the doors, down trees and downed signs … but no major damage.

The hospital has up to five open hospital beds, and will start taking patients later today. Some patients did come through the ER last night. The hospital still has power.

Hospital staff will remain until the all-clear is given, likely Saturday.

9:00 AM UPDATE

About 100,000 customers in Volusia County are without power. That number rose over the course of a few hours Friday morning as Hurricane Matthew made its way up the central Florida coast. Streets lights are out in some areas and residents have reported flooding in their homes.

Increasingly strong winds led the County to close bridges from the mainland to the beach side. The westbound lanes on the bridges are still open to vehicles leaving the beach side.

Thousands of residents have evacuated to the county’s more than twenty shelters. Four still have room for evacuees: two in Orange City for the general public; two in Deltona for people with special needs.

The county’s curfew remains in effect through Saturday at 7 a.m. That means no one on the street unless evacuating. Part of that is to keep loitering and theft.

8:00 AM UPDATE

Residents across the state are waking up without power Friday morning. Half of Brevard County has no juice as Hurricane Matthew lashes the coastline. Wind gusts of 107 mph have been clocked in northern Brevard County. Daytona is reporting gusts of 67 mph. The storm’s top winds are at 120 mph. A storm surge of 7 to 11 feet is expected along the coast and the St Johns River … along with up to a foot of rain and possible tornadoes.

7:00 AM UPDATE

Brevard County is waking up with Hurricane Matthew just offshore. The storm has been downgraded to a category 3 with winds reaching 120 mph. Brevard County is feeling sustained winds of about 50 mph, with gusts reaching 70 MPH. Matthew is centered about 40 miles east southeast of Cape Canaveral and is moving north northwest near 13 mph.

More than 270,00 Floridians are without power, some 15,000 in Volusia County and 65,900 in Brevard County. OUC reports 7,000 customers are without power in the Orlando metro area.

Orange and Seminole are under a curfew until 7:00am Saturday, Brevard County is urging residents to stay inside today. Emergency officials warn residents to stay indoors and once curfews are lifted to stay away from downed power lines.

More than 2 million in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were urged to flee inland ahead of Hurricane Matthew. The storm stayed about 100 miles off south Florida sparing millions. Now the powerful storm is pushing along the coast toward Georgia and South Carolina. Forecasters expect Matthew to reach the Florida-Georgia line by late Friday night. The hurricane has left more than 280 people dead in the Caribbean.

2:00 AM UPDATE

Matthew’s now a category 3 hurricane, downgraded from Category 4. But it’s still an extremely dangerous storm.

At 2 a.m. the National Hurricane Center said the storm was about 80 miles South East of Cape Canaveral, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

It’s moving North West at 14 miles per hour.

Tropical storm force winds were being reported from Brevard County and South along the coast.

The National Weather Service reported a 70 mph wind gust at Vero Beach Airport at 12:50 am and a 60 mph at Melbourne Airport at 12:57 am

Volusia county is seeing wind gusts in the 50 mph range along and near the coast.

Power outages are reported throughout the state.

Florida Power and Light reported 213 thousand outages. The utility was warning as many as two point five million people could lose power in the storm.

In Brevard County more than 20 thousand outages were reported.

Brevard County Emergency Operations is telling residents it’s too dangerous to respond to emergencies because of downed lines.

They’re warning people to stay inside.

Mobile homes are particularly at risk from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. In Orange County firefighters went door to door in 54 mobile home communities warning people to evacuate.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested two people for violating the curfew.

11:00 PM UPDATE

Hurricane Matthew is about 125 miles South East of Cape Canaveral and moving north west at 13 mph.

The National Hurricane Center says maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph. A gradual weakening is forecast over the next 48 hours but the storm is still expected to be a Category 3 or stronger as it moves near the coast of Florida.

Curfews

Volusia County has a curfew beginning at 12 midnight Thursday and lasting until 7:00 am Saturday.

“Midnight curfew: If you’re trying to evacuate, or absolutely have to travel, we won’t stop you. But zero tolerance for loitering/looting,” the Volusia County sheriff’s office tweeted.

Orange County has put a curfew in place starting at 10:00 pm Thursday. It lasts until 7:00 am Saturday. Emergency workers and others who must be on the road for their jobs will be exempt, says Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

“If there are other individuals who find themselves in a situation that was out of their control,” said Demings, “we are going to proceed with an abundance of caution.”

Seminole County’s curfew starts at 5:00 am Friday and runs until 7:00 am Saturday.

Power Outages

Millions of residents are expected to lose power during the storm. Here’s contact information for some of the major power companies:
FP&L – to report outage or downed power line 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243)

Duke Energy – customer service 800.700.8744

OUC – Orlando/Orange County 407-423-9018 or St Cloud/ Osceola County 407-957-7373

Volusia County

About 2,400 residents are in shelters across the county. Emergency management officials are concerned about a storm surge of 9 to 11 feet along the coast, the Intracoastal Waterway and along the St. Johns River.

There is a curfew in Volusia County starting at midnight Thursday and extending until 7:00 am Saturday.

There are four shelters still open as of 8:30 pm in Volusia County, you can find more information at Volusia.org/PIN.

Brevard County

Emergency managers are expecting to feel the effects of Hurricane Matthew for up to 26 hours with a storm surge of 5 to 9 feet and up to a foot of rain.

Brevard County spokesman Don Walker says scores of people are working through the night at the EOC. “It’s gonna be a long night watching this thing wreck our county,” said Walker.

Brevard County shut of water for Melbourne and Cocoa.

“The utilities are shutting down the water feeds beachside in order to protect the infrastructure and integrity of the entire water distribution system due to the unprecedented severity of the storm, the intensity of the winds, the potential for

 

5:00 PM UPDATE

Gov. Rick Scott is making another plea for residents to  find shelter from Hurricane Matthew. He says 1.5 million people are under evacuation orders and they need to get to one of the scores of shelters are open across the state, or to lodging, or a friend’s house in a safe location.

Forecasters say the hurricane is moving toward the northwest near 14 mph and is expected to continue that speed through the night with a north-northwest turn early Friday morning.

The eye of the storm should move close to or over the Florida east coast through Friday night.

The category 4 storm is packing sustained winds near 140 mph with higher gusts.

“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles,” say forecasters with the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters predict a storm surge from Sebastian Inlet, Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina and including parts of the St Johns River to reach seven to eleven feet.

The DOT has crews monitoring evacuation routes to clear wrecks from the major highways. And Scott says 3,500 members of the National Guard have been activated to help with search and rescue in the wake of the storm.

 

2:00 PM UPDATE

Florida is bracing for Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to hit as a category 4 storm. President Obama declared a state of emergency for 28 counties in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott warned residents that they could go days without power. Already thousands of people have evacuated from the coast.

With winds expected to reach 140 mph, Orlando resident Tom Khachatourian is conerned about his home.

“I’m worried about my roof, that’s the one thing that I’m concerned about,” he said. “If the winds do hit at the gravity that they say, there’s gonna be some roofs gone.”

Scott said this could be the largest evacuation in the state’s history.

Officials in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina urged some two million residents to move inland and brace for the most powerful storm in more than a decade.

Seminole County Opens Shelters

Seminole County will have a mandatory curfew from Friday 5:00 AM to Saturday 7:00 AM. The county also opened shelter on Thursday.

Bentley Elementary 2190 South Oregon Avenue, Sanford, Florida Special Needs and Caregivers Only, Pet Friendly
Highlands Elementary 1600 Shepard Road, Winter Springs, Florida Special Needs and Caregivers Only, No Pets
Lake Mary High School 655 Longwood-Lake Mary Road   Lake Mary, Florida General Population, No Pets
Lawton Chiles Middle School 1240 Sanctuary Drive, Oviedo Florida General Population, No Pets
Lyman High School 865 Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, FL General Population, Pet Friendly
Midway Elementary 2368 Brisson Avenue, Sanford, FL General Population, No Pets

 

11:45 AM UPDATE

Gov. Rick Scott is urging residents to prepare for the worst as Hurricane Matthew heads toward Florida. Emergency officials are urging residents to get off the roads by 5:00 pm and prepare for days without power.

Hurricane Matthew has gained strength and speed as of the latest update. The storm is packing 140 mph winds and moving northwest at 14 mph. Effects of the storm are expected in central Florida Thursday night with the storm arriving Friday morning.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced that there is now a mandatory evacuation of mobile homes in Orange County. That is in addition to the mandatory evacuations already in place along coastal Brevard, Volusia, and Flagler counties. Jacobs says there’s a hotline to help find hotel accommodations – 407-354-5555.

Some Orlando hotels are offering discounts to help those seeking shelter. The list of those hotels, including if they’re pet friendly, here.

Hurricane warnings are in effect from south Florida all the way up past the Florida/Georgia border – in central Florida, that means Brevard, Volusia, Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Flagler.

Some gas stations have reported running out, but the governor says they’re getting refilled as quickly as possible.

“And fuel is available at this point in the state. The current fuel supply in the state will last for six days even if all ports close,” said Scott. “Remember to take the fuel you need but don’t take more. Many people in your community need fuel to get to safety, we’ll start seeing lines at gas stations, we’ve already seeing some.”

Power companies say they have thousands of workers standing by to get the power back on as soon as possible.

Theme Parks Closed

As for the theme parks, so far we’ve learned that Sea World and Discovery Cove will close early Thursday and will stay closed Friday. Aquatica will be closed both Thursday and Friday. At last check, Walt Disney World is continuing normal operations but cancelling Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween event Thursday night. Central Florida News 13 reports Disney officials will re-evaluate closures as they monitor the storm. Universal theme parks and properties are closing at 5:00pm. Wet ‘n’ Wild is closing at 2:00pm

Transporation

Orlando International Airport expects airlines to cancel flights into central Florida beginning Thursday.

Lynx will stop running buses at 5:00pm Thursday and all buses must be cleared out by 8:00pm tonight.

The city is stopping SunRail train operations Thursday at 2 p.m.

5:50 p.m. UPDATE

The city of Orlando is cancelling Come Out With Pride events on Thursday and Friday due to Hurricane Matthew.

The launch party on Thursday night at the Abbey and the Friday night Church Street Block party have been cancelled.

City officials say they’re still on schedule for Saturday events and are monitoring the path of the storm for further postponements or cancellations. Schedule updates will be posted at comeoutwithpride.com

The Orange County Library System will close all library branches at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Libraries will remain closed Friday, and plan to reopen for business Saturday. Orange County libraries will update closures on facebook  and twitter.

 

4:50 p.m. UPDATE

County officials across central Florida are keeping an eye on vulnerable populations as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says emergency personnel are reaching out to residents in 54 mobile home communities.

“We have many of these on the east side of Orange County where we anticipate the greatest strength and the greatest amount of damage, and of course we’re all particularly concerned about those living in mobile homes or other precarious housing arrangements, including our homeless population.”

Jacobs says Orange County will release a list of shelters Thursday.

She said there will be pet friendly shelters, too. Shelters in Orange County will be open by 3 p.m. Thursday.

Orlando International Airport expects airlines to cancel flights into central Florida beginning Thursday.

Some international flights already have been cancelled.

Twenty state parks and campgrounds are closing.

Among them is Sebastian Inlet State Park in Brevard County. In Volusia County, Tomaka State Park and Hontoon State Park also will be closed.

Parks also are closed in Duval, Flagler, Martin, Nassau, Okeechobee, Putnam, St. John’s and St. Lucie counties.

3:50 p.m. UPDATE

Hurricane Matthew is causing evacuations at hospitals on the beach side.

In Brevard County, Health First moved nearly 60 patients from Cape Canaveral Hospital in Merritt Island to hospitals in Melbourne and Viera. The hospital is closed.

“Our physician leadership gets together, they go through the patients that are at Health First Cape Canaveral hospital, and then they decide the right place to take them,” said Matthew Gerrell, a spokesman for the hospital.”Safety and security is our top priority at Health First Hospital.”

Florida Hospital Oceanside in Ormond Beach has closed after evacuating 50 patients to Florida Hospital Memorial on the mainland. Its ER is also shut down.

And Florida Hospital New Smyrna has been evacuated, but its emergency room is still open. Additionally, all outpatient procedures Thursday and Friday at Florida Hospital will be canceled.

In Orlando, Florida Hospital has activated its emergency operations center and is stockpiling water and other supplies for the storm.

3:45 p.m. UPDATE

The Florida Department of Transportation is halting construction work on interstates and evacuation route roadways as Hurricane Matthew nears.

Contractors are instructed to secure equipment and open travel lanes by removing barricades. Tolls are suspended in counties where evacuation orders have been issued.

Jodi Abdy of Orlando says she plans on staying off the roadways.

“It’s just not safe. If you get yourself in a situation then we’re going to have to put our fire department, those other people in danger trying to come rescue you.”

Hurricane Matthew is forecast to edge near central Florida late Thursday or early Friday. It’s been more than a decade since a storm this powerful hit Florida.

2:45 p.m. UPDATE

The city of Orlando is preparing for tropical storm winds and hurricane gusts.

Power outages and downed trees are expected, and officials are warning residents to prepare today.

The city is stopping SunRail train operations tomorrow (Thursday) at 2 p.m.

“Taking SunRail out of operation is quite a production,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Likewise, putting it back into operation.”

The Orlando Utilities Commission has already brought in extra crews, and will prioritize getting power to hospitals and emergency centers.

1:15 p.m. UPDATE

The Florida Department of Transportation has suspended tolls on State Road 528 because of the evacuations in Brevard County.

When it comes to evacuations, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said to follow the orders.

“We can’t send someone to save you because you made a bad decision,” Scott said.

Scott said people who need to evacuate should go now before traffic gets bad. Hurricane Matthew could force the largest evacuation in Florida history.

“It could be the biggest evacuation ever,” Scott said. “It’s unusual for something to come along our coast line like this.”

12:23 p.m. UPDATE

Hurricane Matthew has begun to re-strengthen on its approach to the Bahamas. The National Hurricane Center says winds are back up to 120 miles per hour as the storm moves northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Matthew is expected to be a Category 4 storm as it approaches the Atlantic coast Thursday night into Friday morning.

Florida Public Radio Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says there is very little standing between Matthew and Florida.

“The waters ahead of Matthew are extremely warm, the wind shear above it is lightening up, and even if it moves over one of the islands in the Bahamas, the small nature of the island and the low terrain should have little effect on Matthew’s overall strength and structure,” said Huffman. “It is now expected to have winds up to 130 mph as it nears the coast Friday morning.”

Hurricane warnings now stretch all the way from south Florida to the Volusia/Flagler County line, also covering inland areas of central Florida including Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.

Brevard County’s barrier islands including Merritt Island are under mandatory evacuation orders beginning at 3:00pm today.

Forecaster say details on specific localized impacts will become much clearer by this afternoon as new model data comes in.

Governor Rick Scott warned residents along Florida’s east coast to prepare for the possible landfall of what could be a powerful and deadly storm.

During an update at the state Emergency Operations Center, Scott said even if the storm remains offshore, tropical-storm force winds will extend into the state. He said residents should not just focus on the projected track of the storm before they get prepared.

“If Matthew directly impacts Florida, the destruction could be catastrophic, and you need to be prepared. We are preparing for the worst but are hoping for the best, and we’re not going to take any chances.”
Scott says Florida will experience heavy rains, rip currents, beach erosion, tornadoes and hurricane-force winds.

School Closings Across Central Florida

Brevard County Schools will be open today – but close Thursday and Friday due to the storm. Tonight’s after school activities cancelled.

Volusia County Schools posted that schools will be closed on Thursday and Friday, including after school and athletic events

Orange County Schools are open today – but will close Thursday and Friday. All on and off campus activities planned from Thursday through Sunday are cancelled. District offices will remain open on Thursday, but closed on Friday.

Embry Riddle will close at 12:30pm Thursday and remain closed Friday. Bethune Cookman University has ordered a mandatory evacuation and will reopen Sunday at noon.

Valencia College closed Thursday through Sunday due to Hurricane Matthew. Classes canceled.

UCF’s main campus will cancel classes after 3:00 PM today, and will close staring at 5:00 PM. Remains closed Thursday and Friday.

UCF’s Cocoa and Palm Bay campuses, which share locations with Eastern Florida State College, will close at noon today through Sunday.

Rollins College has cancelled classes for Thursday and Friday.

Seminole County schools will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Osceola County schools will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Lake County Schools will meet with county officials later today and announce this afternoon whether schools will close.

Hospital Plans Ahead Of Storm

Health First is evacuating Cape Canaveral hospital in Merritt Island.

The hospital has already evacuated 29 people, and have 30 more to evacuate before 3 p.m. The priority is critically ill patients, followed by mothers and newborns.

Officials say they expect to meet the 3 p.m. deadline to evacuate patients.

The Orlando VA Medical Center has closed clinics in Brevard and Volusia counties.

The Viera and Daytona Beach VA locations will be closed Thursday and Friday  and will reopen next Tuesday after the Columbus Day holiday.

The Port Orange Psychosocial Recovery and Rehabilitation Center will also be closed.

Michael Strickler is spokesman for the VA, “with the storm projections, we do not anticipate closing the Lake Nona location and our urgent care center will remain open 24-7 as normal. Same goes for our clinics in Lake Baldwin, Kissimmee and Tavares.”

The Lake Nona location is set up to run for 10 days on generator power.

Shelter locations

Brevard shelters begin opening at 4:00 PM Wednesday.

Brevard – General Population Shelters

Mims Elementary School, 2582 US Highway 1, Mims

Imperial Estates Elementary School, 900 Imperial Estates Lane, Titusville

Walter Butler Community Center at Bernice Jackson Park, 4201 US Highway 1, Cocoa

Manatee Elementary School, 3425 Viera Blvd., Viera

Sherwood Elementary School, 2541 Post Road, Melbourne

Meadowlane Intermediate Elementary, 2700 Wingate Blvd., West Melbourne

Bayside High School, 1901 DeGroodt Rd. S.W. Palm Bay

South Mainland Community Center, 3700 Allen Ave., Micco

Brevard – Pet Friendly Shelters

Port St. John Community Center, 6650 Corto Road, Port St. John

Viera Regional Community Center, 2300 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera

Ted Witlock Community Center at Palm Bay Regional Park, 1951 Malabar Rd NW, Palm Bay

 

Individuals with special needs are encouraged to call 321-637-6670, option #2.

“If someone did wait to apply for a special needs shelter, we still encourage them to apply now,” said Kevin Walker, with the Center for Independent Living. “Late is better than never. That doesn’t necessarily mean someone will be able to access that shelter at this point, but it’s better to try.”

See below for a list of websites to register for special needs shelters by county:

Brevard County

Orange County

Seminole County

Osceola County

Polk County

Lake County

Theme Parks Brace For Matthew

Theme parks across central Florida are keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Matthew, although they haven’t closed the gates yet. So what happens if a storm threatens a theme-park vacation?

Disney 
If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for Orlando, or the city you’re traveling from, within seven days of your arrival date, Disney will reschedule the vacation package and most on-property hotel rooms without any fees. This policy does not include any dining reservations.
The no-fee policy also doesn’t include any third-party products — like airline tickets or car rentals.

Guests can call Disney at (407) 939-7675 to reschedule.

Universal Orlando
Universal Parks & Resorts have a similar policy. Guests can reschedule hotel accommodations and tickets if a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for Orlando withing 7 days of their arrival. The vacation package must have been purchased through Universal Orlando.

Those affected by the storm can call (800) 711-0080 for more info.

SeaWorld

SeaWorld will closer early on Thursday at 2:00 PM. The park will remain closed Friday, and re-open Saturday at 10:00 AM.

SeaWorld Hurricane Policy: In the event a named tropical storm or hurricane approaches Orlando, Tampa, or a guest’s hometown, the parks will reschedule or refund any vacation package and/or individual park tickets. Those accommodations must have been purchased through SeaWorld or Busch Gardens.

11:50 AM UPDATE

The National Hurricane Center has extended its hurricane warning northward from Sebastian Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia county line.

Matthew is moving toward the northwest near 12 mph on a track that sends it across the Bahamas through Thursday, and is expected to be very near the east coast of Florida by Thursday evening. Forecasters say the storm is expected to remain at category 3 or stronger while it moves through the Bahamas and approaches the east coast of Florida.

9:22 AM UPDATE

Florida Institute of Technology has cancelled classes for Thursday and Friday.  Students living off-campus are being told to pay close attention to evacuation orders and other directions from local authorities. Students living on campus should follow the directions of Student Affairs, Residence Life, and Campus Security personnel.

8:42 AM UPDATE

Volusia County Schools posted that schools will be closed on Thursday and Friday, including after school and athletic events. Wednesday Volusia County Schools will be open.

8:00 AM UPDATE

Brevard County Schools will be open today – but close Thursday and Friday due to the storm. Tonight’s after school activities cancelled.

Embry Riddle will close at 12:30pm Thursday and remain closed Friday. Bethune Cookman University has ordered a mandatory evacuation and will reopen Sunday at noon.

Orange County Schools are also monitoring the storm and will make a decision by midday today and will be alerting parents along with posting updates on its website, Facebook page and on Twitter.

Rollins College has cancelled classes for Thursday and Friday.

Lake County Schools will meet with county officials later today and announce this afternoon whether schools will close.

Seminole County and Osceola County schools are also monitoring the storms.

Florida Power and Light says it’s mobilizing some 6,300 workers and contractors ahead of the storm, positioning crews and equipment. OUC as well as New Smyrna Beach utilities are also monitoring the storm and preparing to respond to any power outages.

Customers should make sure they have their account information on hand should the power go out.

 

7:30 AM UPDATE

Central Florida counties are under hurricane watches and evacuations are being ordered in coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Matthew. The storm’s current track has Matthew moving north parallel to Florida’s coast. Hurricane warnings stretch from Hallandale Beach to Sebastian Inlet including Lake Okeechobee, and hurricane watches are in effect up the coast to Flagler County including Brevard and Volusia, and inland including Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.

Central Florida is expected to begin feeling significant effects from Matthew tomorrow into Friday morning, but it’s still unclear exactly HOW significant the effects will be. Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says the Category 3 hurricane could re-strengthen later today as it approaches The Bahamas.

Brevard County’s barrier islands including Merritt Island are under a mandatory evacuation order beginning at 3:00pm today. Port Canaveral’s CEO issued an evacuation order for area businesses, tenants, marinas, and Jetty Park campers, with a deadline to evacuate by noon today.

Brevard County Schools will be open today – but close tomorrow and Friday due to the storm. Volusia, Orange, Seminole, and Osceola are monitoring the storms and are expected to make announcements later today.

2:00 PM UPDATE

Gov. Rick Scott says a direct hit by Hurricane Matthew cannot be ruled out.  The governor was in Volusia County Tuesday as he visited with leaders across Florida’s east coast in preparation for the hurricane.

Scott urged Floridians to prepare as Hurricane Matthew now is forecast to edge closer to the state’s east coast as it churns north through the Atlantic Ocean.

He said the storm is capable of “massive destruction” the state hasn’t seen in years.

“The biggest risk is people don’t take this seriously,” said Scott. “I mean right now we’re blessed. The storm track is a little bit off our coast. That’s great. But it can change.”

Matthew is forecast to bear down on south Florida beginning Thursday and will near central Florida on Friday morning.

The hurricane already is blamed for seven deaths in the Caribbean.

The National Weather Service’s 2:00 pm update has the eye of Hurricane Matthew moving toward the north near 10 mph . “On this track the eye of Matthew will move over the extreme portion of eastern Cuba later this afternoon.”

Forecasters say the storm is expected to turn north-northwest by Wednesday and then turn northwest Wednesday night.

Matthew remains a category 4 hurricane, as of 2:00 pm Tuesday.

11:00 AM UPDATE

As of the 11 a.m. update from the National Weather Service, Florida is seeing its first set of watches in relation to Hurricane Matthew and they include central Florida.

A hurricane watch is now in effect from Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard county line.

A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys northward to south of Deerfield Beach, including Lake Okeechobee.

Hurricane Matthew made landfall this morning around 7 a.m. near Les Anglais in western Haiti as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 140 miles per hour. There was a significant shift west in the projected path Matthew might take. National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb says a Florida landfall cannot be ruled out.

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Where To Pickup Sandbags

Lake County Emergency Management is distributing sandbags at four county fire stations. Residents are allowed 20 bags per household. Pickup is until 8 p.m.

Seminole County is distributing sandbags at various locations and times. Residents do need to bring their own shovel. More details at prepareseminole.com

Brevard County is giving out free sandbags at two locations Tuesday. There is a 10-bag limit. Pickup bags at the Sheriff’s Work Farm in Cocoa until 3 p.m.

Volusia County residents can pick up sandbags from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information on the locations found here.

Orange County is offering sandbags to residents at locations listed here.

 

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The center of Hurricane Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti Monday night and crossing over eastern Cuba late Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. In addition to the storm surge and wind, flooding and mudslides will be a hazard for parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where 15 to 25 inches of rain may fall.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency as forecasters track the hurricane. “We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, and we will not take any chances to ensure our state is prepared, “said Scott.

Although the storm is not currently projected to directly hit Florida, the governor is urging residents to prepare and get a plan in place.

North Carolina’s governor has also declared a state of emergency.

After moving through the Windward Passage, FPREN meteorologist Deborah Alberto says the effects could possibly be felt along Florida’s Atlantic coast as early as Wednesday.

“Matthew will likely be at its closest point to south Florida on Wednesday, and closest to northeast Florida by Thursday,” said Alberto. “At this time, Florida’s Atlantic coast will likely begin having rough seas, high surf, minor coastal flooding, beach erosion and dangerous rip currents.”

In the Dominican Republic, 13,000 people have been evacuated from high-risk areas ahead of the storm. The hurricane is expected to pound the Dominican Republic with heavy rains and winds, but hit Haiti the hardest.


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