Hurricane Matthew: Florida couple dies of generator fumes; U.S. death toll at 4
Authorities say an elderly couple appears to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after Hurricane Matthew, raising the U.S. death toll from the storm to 4.
A post on the St. Lucie County Fire District's Facebook page says rescuers responded to couple's home Friday morning after neighbors found them not breathing. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where county spokesman Erick Gill says they later died.
Officials say the couple had been running a generator inside their garage throughout the storm.
Officials didn't immediately naming the couple. Two women in Florida were also killed in separate accidents.
A man who stayed on a Georgia island to ride out Hurricane Matthew says "trees are bending over" and it's "raining sideways" as the storm approaches the Georgia-Florida line.
Steve Todd said he and a friend ventured out in a truck after dark Friday to pick up a couple of buddies who had become frightened of rapidly worsening conditions on Tybee Island. He said they were all going back to his third-floor condominium to spend the night.
Local officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for Tybee on Wednesday, but some residents insisted on staying put. The hurricane's center was expected to pass early Saturday.
Todd said he doesn't regret his decision, "but I'm not going to lie. There's a little bit of nervous tension right now."
Officials in Florida are cutting off all access to beachside portions of Flagler County after Hurricane Matthew washed away a portion of State Road A1A.
A news release says emergency workers will begin entering the area to rescue those who did not leave.
"This is not a curfew. No one will be permitted to enter the barrier island," Flagler County public safety emergency manager Steve Garten said in the release. "This will be enforced by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office."
A curfew will begin at 7 p.m. Friday on the mainland portions of the county.
"We don't want anyone on the beachside who doesn't need to be there," Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said in the release. "We need to be able to get an assist those people who are in the most need."
More than 1.1 million people are now without power in Florida after Hurricane Matthew steadily grinded its way up the east coast.
State officials released updated totals late Friday that showed the powerful storm had knocked out electricity over a long coastal stretch of the peninsula. One of the hardest hit areas is Volusia County where nearly 258,000 customers — 92 percent of all customers — were without power.
Nearly 200,000 people in Brevard County, the home to Cape Canaveral, were also without power along with nearly 132,000 customers in the Jacksonville area.
But the fury of the storm was strong enough that it has also caused outages in Central Florida. Nearly 150,000 customers who live in the Orlando area are without electricity.
Authorities are now saying two people have died in the U.S. because of Hurricane Matthew.
The Putnam County, Florida, Sheriff's Office reported Friday that a woman was killed and a man was injured near Crescent City when a tree fell on their camper during the storm.
A post on the sheriff's office Facebook page says the two adults were attempting to ride out the storm when high winds apparently caused the tree to fall. The man escaped with minor injuries, but the woman was killed.
Authorities didn't immediately name the victims.
Earlier Friday, Volusia County emergency management director Jim Judge reported the death of a woman after a tree fell on her house.
More than 300 people were killed in the Caribbean as a result of the hurricane, mostly in Haiti.
The U.S. military is mobilizing to help Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew's destruction.
The Navy said Friday that it's sending the Norfolk, Virginia-based USS Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock ship, toward the island where hundreds are reported dead.
The ship is loaded with 300 Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, one landing craft and three large helicopters. The Navy said they'll be able to quickly distribute relief.
Lt. Jeffrey Prunera said two other ships, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and the USS Comfort hospital ship, are awaiting further orders in the South Atlantic to possibly help as well.
The military has established Joint Task Force Matthew to oversee its relief efforts. By Friday afternoon, 170 personnel and nine helicopters had already reached the country.
Hurricane Matthew has weakened slightly as it pounds Florida and crawls north along the Atlantic coast.
At 5 p.m. EDT Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Matthew had sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph), making it a very powerful Category 2 storm.
At one point, Matthew reached the strongest Category 5 designation, but it has been slowly weakening as it has moved closer to Florida.
The storm left more than 300 people dead in the Caribbean and at least one person has died in Florida. More than 1 million homes and businesses are without power in the state.