Hurricane Matthew, a Category 3 storm that already killed hundreds across the Caribbean, has started damaging parts of Florida. Celebrities are among those sending prayers to the Sunshine State as the hurricane approaches new sites.
Reese Witherspoon offered, "My prayers go out to all of those effected by #HurricaneMatthew: Praying for safety." Josh Gad conveyed, "All my #Floridians, please say safe. My family just scrambled up North to avoid the eye. Find a shelter and hunker down." And Marie Osmond said, "Praying for those who have already seen #HurricaneMatthew's destruction and sending love to everyone evacuating in Florida."
President Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida on Thursday, while Gov. Rick Scott urged residents living in evacuation zones to leave before the hurricane hits Friday, adding, "This storm will kill you." Meanwhile, 3,500 members of the National Guard are engaged in disaster-relief.
Among other celebrities sending well-wishes to Florida is Mark Ruffalo, who tweeted, "Brothers and sisters of #Florida be safe." Josh Groban similarly wrote, "Hang in there, Floridians," while Andy Cohen said, "Everybody in Florida BE CAREFUL!!! And Ashley Benson expressed, "Praying for friends and family in Florida."
Consumer Federation of America predicts as many as 100,000 insurance claims for wind damage from this hurricane, according to USA Today, and payouts for damages to exceed $7.4 billion. CFA staffers offer three tips for those evacuating from the hurricane's path:
- Locate your homeowners or renters policy, and make sure it's in a safe place where you can reach it after the storm.
- Review your policy to find out how and where to report a claim.
- If possible, document your belongings with photos or a video tour.
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America staffers also recommend using a smartphone to supplement an inventory with photos and videos inside the home, as well as saving the inventory in a disaster-proof form, such as email or cloud-based note-taking services.
Hurricane Matthew is the strongest hurricane to menace the United States in a decade, and forecasts warn that a dangerous storm surge of up to 11 feet could cause life-threatening flooding in as many as four states. More than 1 million people in Florida lacked power by mid-Friday afternoon due to the storm, reports The Washington Post. More than 2.5 million people were told to evacuate in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, where schools and government offices were shuttered this week.
Florida officials said airports in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Melbourne were closed, while airlines canceled nearly 1,500 flights through the state. Disney World closed down Friday, and college football games from Gainesville, Fla., to Columbia, S.C., were called off or rescheduled.