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Hurricane Matthew causes 4 deaths in Florida

Georgia and South Carolina residents are being urged to heed evacuation warnings and get as far inland as possible.
Debris flies through the air as the eye of Hurricane Matthew nears Daytona BeachReuters

Hurricane Matthew is blamed for the deaths of four people in Florida, according to reports.

Two people died on Wednesday in St. Lucie County when emergency services couldn’t reach them due to Matthew’s high winds, ABC7 Los Angeles reported. One of the deceased was a woman in her late 50s who died from cardiac arrest. EMS was unable to get to her location safely and she died before the crews reached her.

The second victim, an 82-year-old man with difficulty breathing, died later that evening in the hospital. "When it was deemed safe for emergency vehicles to travel it was reported to first responders that the patient had been taken to the hospital," officials said, ABC7 reported.

Thursday morning, a woman in her 60s in Volusia County was feeding her animals outside when a tree fell on her and killed her, ABC7 reported.

Another woman was killed in northeast Florida when a tree fell on her camper trailer,CNN reported.

"Just because the center of circulation is offshore doesn't mean you can't be the center of action (along the coast)," National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said, according to CNN. "It's going to get a lot worse before it (has) a chance of getting better."

Matthew, which downgraded to a category 3 overnight, was downgraded to a category 2 Thursday afternoon. The storm, which is still creating wind up to 110 mph, is travelling north at 12 mph.

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Gov. Nathan Deal issued a mandatory evacuation for Georgia.

"I don't intend to prosecute anyone for not leaving. ... I think Mother Nature will take care of them,” he said on Thursday, ABC7 reported.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said 355,000 people have evacuated and more than 4,000 are staying in shelters, ABC7 reported. About 1.1 million people were told a mandatory evacuation is in place for the coastline of the state.

"The best thing now is to just hunker down, stay in a safe place," Haley said. "Don't move, don't try and move around, make sure you have your cell phones charged.”

Matthew is expected to hit South Carolina on Saturday morning.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugatetold ABCthat residents in Georgia and South Carolina that are under evacuation orders, but are thinking "'Maybe it'll turn and it won't be so bad' – you need to go now."

"Many of these areas have not had this level of flooding since, like, the late 1800s," he said. "We know some people don't evacuate."

"It is already too late for some people in Florida,” he added. “Just stay where you're at, hold on because it's just too dangerous to be outside."

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