News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

North Central Florida Prepares As Matthew Strengthens

Waves crashoff the pilings under the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier on Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2016, as Hurricane Matthew approaches Jacksonville, Fla. (Bruce Lipsky/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
Waves crashoff the pilings under the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier on Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2016, as Hurricane Matthew approaches Jacksonville, Fla. (Bruce Lipsky/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

Updated: October 6, 3:27 p.m.

Hurricane Matthew has strengthened to a catastrophic Category 4 storm as it barrels toward the heavily populated coast of Florida.

“Indian River county all the way to the Florida-Georgia line we’ll have winds exceeding 100 miles per hour,” governor Scott said during a briefing on the hurricane in St. Augustine.

“Expect to have a lot of flooding, especially here in Northeast Florida,” he added.

According to Scott, the impacts of Hurricane Matthew could include heavy rain, beach erosion, the risk of tornadoes, hurricane winds and 9 feet of storm surge.

To get updates from the State Emergency Response Team, text FLPREPARES to 888-777.


Earlier Governor Scott has activated an additional 1,000 National Guard members. 3,500 members have now been activated.

Governor's press office quoted him as saying, “Protecting lives remains our number one priority and that is why I have now activated over half of the National Guard who will play a big role in important life-saving missions.  I have directed them to focus on prepositioning resources, assist with helping people evacuate safely and our sheltering operations.  In the immediate aftermath of the storm, they will be involved in recovery efforts including search and rescue missions.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also has high-water vehicles prepositioned across the state to help with these efforts."

“While the federal government has just approved our request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for food, water and tarps, I am asking the President for additional generators and pumps to help with power outages and flooding once the storm hits.  Following the most recent weather briefing from the National Hurricane Center, we can expect to have a lot of flooding, especially in Northeast Florida, and we will need additional pumping equipment from the federal government,” Scott said.

President Obama has declared an emergency exists in the State of Florida and ordered federal aid to be provided to the local government, the White House reported.


The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm's maximum sustained winds had strengthened to 140 mph as of late Thursday morning and were expected to maintain their strength as the storm approaches the Florida coast.

According to the most recent forecast, tropical storm force winds (39 mph) will begin in Alachua County on Friday, October 7, at approximately 8 a.m.
 Winds of this magnitude or higher may continue for 23 hours, according to Alachua County Communication Office.

Within this period, there is an 80% chance of strong tropical storm force winds (58 mph) to begin in Alachua County at 5 p.m. They will continue approximately for six hours.

Governor Rick Scott had a meeting with emergency management officials in Tallahassee and Stuart today, governor's press office reported.

Scott has several other meetings with emergency management officials scheduled.

The state remains under both tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings.

According to the governor's press office, Scott "has remained in constant communication with state and local leaders, utility companies, sheriffs, and volunteer organizations who are working to ensure the state is prepared for the storm."


North Central Florida counties are taking measures to prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it heads toward the U.S. from the Caribbean.

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday morning warned people along Florida's East Coast that they have less than 24 hours to prepare for the possible landfall of powerful and deadly Hurricane Matthew.

With the slow-moving path of Matthew forecast to run along the coast from late Thursday to early Saturday, Scott said he was awaiting updated evacuation orders from coastal counties and that even if the storm remains offshore, tropical-storm force winds will extend into the state.

Many coastal counties are planning on opening shelters today, including shelters for people with special needs, pets and general populations. A list of all open shelters is available here.

The state is also working with the American Red Cross to identify shelter capacity both during and following the storm in the potential impact areas. Ninety-seven shelters will be opening statewide within the next two days. The state has a 110,000 meal capacity a day, which can be delivered using 24 Emergency Response Vehicles, 31 canteens, and 2 mobile trailers. Gov. Scott encourages everyone to download the free American Red Cross emergency app. It shows any open shelters in real time.

"Our number one priority is protecting lives," Scott said after an update at the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "The storm has already killed multiple people (in other countries), and we should expect the same impact in Florida if people do not take this seriously."

State offices will be closed in 26 counties on Thursday and Friday. Complete list is available here.


Gainesville Regional Utilities outage reporting phone number,  352-334-2871

Clay Electric Cooperative outage number, toll free, 888-434-9844

Duke Energy outage number,  800-228-8485


  • Governor Scott directed DOT to suspend all tolls in the affected areas of the state, which includes the entire Florida Turnpike, Alligator Alley, Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.
  • This expands the Governor’s direction from this morning that included suspension of tolls in counties with evacuation orders.


The LSU-Florida football game scheduled for Saturday in Gainesville has been postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, it was announced Thursday

University of Florida classes are canceled at 3 p.m. today, October 6. Campus will close at 5 p.m. Due to Hurricane Matthew the Libraries close today at 5pm, are closed Friday and will reopen Saturday 10am.

UF campus is closed on Friday. P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School will follow the UF closure schedule.

UF also urges the university community to monitor media reports and download the UF GATORSAFE mobile app for more information.
University officials will post updates on the  UF homepage, the  UF Emergency Management site,  UF Alert, and through social media platforms of Twitter @UF, @UFPublicSafety and  Facebook.

Information will also be updated daily on UF’s Rumor Control Line: 1-866-UF-FACTS.

An update on Saturday's football game against LSU today is expected today after 5 p.m., as well as an update the status of SEC Network's show SEC Nation as soon as possible.


All flights to and from Gainesville Regional Airport including Delta and American Airlines have been canceled.

  • The 311 Rumor Control phone number is now active. Please use it to verify the most up to the minute information on Hurricane Matthew. For life threatening emergencies call 911. For emergencies that are not life threatening, call 352-955-1818.
  • Shelters will open Thursday: Senior Center for special needs populations opens at 11 a.m. (5701 NW 34th Blvd.), Rawlings Elementary for general population opens at 5 p.m. (3500 NE 15th St.) and Easton Newberry Sports Complex for general population opens at 5 p.m. (24800 NW 16th Ave. in Newberry)
  • There are no mandatory evacuations.
  • City and county offices will be closed Friday, Oct. 7.
  • RTS will cease service at 12 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, cancel Later Gator service and route 126, and have reduced service Friday, Oct. 7 with no Later Gator or route 126 service. Please visit for more info.
  • Please call 352-334-2871 to report power outages and 352-334-2550 for natural gas emergencies.


School Closures

Alachua County Public Schools will be open Thursday, October 6 but closed Friday, October 7.

Santa Fe college locations will be closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday and will stay closed through Sunday. Santa Fe is expected to reopen on Monday.

Queen of Peace Academy, St. Francis Academy, St. Patrick Interparish School
Additionally, the Alachua County School District's football schedule has been revised:

  • Buchholz/GHS - Saturday 7:30 pm Citizens Field
  • Eastside/Lake Weir - Thursday 6 pm Citizens Field (EHS Homecoming)
  • Hawthorne/Union County - Thursday 6 pm at Hawthorne
  • Santa Fe/Suwanee - Thursday 7:30 pm at SFHS

Sandbags – Alachua County Public Works Department has set up a sandbag location at the roadside park, located at 11855 NW US HWY 441, Gainesville. The roadside park is located on the east side of US 441, five miles north of the Highway Patrol Station.

Sandbags are available tomorrow (October 6) for residents of Alachua County, with a limit to 10 bags per resident. Bags and sand will be provided. Residents should bring a shovel, as they will be responsible for filling the bags. Bags will be available between 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shelters - Although no mandatory evacuation is expected, shelters will open today (Thursday). The special needs shelter opens at 11 a.m., and is located at the Alachua County Senior Center (5701 N.W. 34th Blvd, Gainesville). The general population shelters will open at 5 p.m. and are located at Rawlings Elementary (3500 N.E. 15th Street, Gainesville), and the Easton Newberry Sports Complex (24880 N.W. 16th Ave, Newberry).

The special needs shelter is for those with special medical needs, such as oxygen dependency (Those in need of transportation assistance, please call 352-955-2575 or 352-955-2576).

General population shelters do not provide cots or beds. Bring any needed bedding. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods, baby food, diapers (and other child necessities), prescription medications, a small cooler of ice if refrigeration is needed as the shelter cannot be responsible for your medications. Also bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.

Pets - Alachua County Animal Services is requesting that pet owners bring their pet directly to Animal Services (3400 N.E. 53rd Ave., Gainesville) prior to evacuating to a designated shelter during normal business hours (10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). After 5:30 p.m., Animal Services Field Officers will transport animals from the shelters to Animal Services but that service will be limited depending on weather conditions. Animal Services will hold all pets until the storm warning has been lifted in Alachua County at which time pet owners will be expected to pick up their pet. Animal Services Headquarter phone number is 352-264-6870. For after-hours call the non-emergency line at 352-955-1818 to reach the on-call Animal Services Officer.


School Closures – 

All schools in Bradford County will be closed tomorrow and Friday (Oct. 6th & 7th).

Float preparations at the fairgrounds for BHS will end at 6:00 instead of 9:00 this evening (Dinner will still be provided).

The Bradford High School football game for this week has been canceled.

Emergency Shelters – Starke Elementary School will be opening as a shelter site at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 6th).

Sandbags – Sandbag operations will take place Oct. 5 and 6 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the City of Starke Purchasing Yard, 601 N Orange St. 40 bags are limited per vehicle.


All Citrus County Senior Community Centers will be closed tomorrow, Friday, October 7.

For more information on Citrus County closings and storm information visit


All Clay County residents located in Evacuation Zones A and B are advised to evacuate from those zones to a safe location outside the inundation area.

Shelters will be located at Orange Park High School (general population and pet-friendly, 5 p.m.), Keystone Heights High School (general population, 5 p.m.) and Lake Asbury Junior High School (general population and special needs residents, 2 p.m.).

School Closures

All schools in Clay County will be closed on Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 7).

Annunciation Interparish School, St. Luke Child Care Center


School Closures

Epiphany Catholic School


School Closures

Assumption Catholic School, Assumption Early Learning Center, Bishop John J. Snyder High School, Bishop Kenny High School, Blessed Trinity Catholic School,

Christ the King Catholic School, Christ the King Child Care Center, Holy Family Catholic School, Holy Rosary Catholic School, Holy Spirit Catholic School, Morning Star School, Resurrection Catholic School, Sacred Heart Catholic School, St. Joseph Catholic School, St. Matthew Catholic School, St. Patrick Catholic School, St. Paul Catholic School, St. Paul Catholic School (Jacksonville Beach), San Jose Catholic School


Flagler County Offices have closed at noon today, October 6th. County offices will remain closed Friday. The Flagler County Airport will shut down operations at 8:00 tonight.

School Closures

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, Palm Coast

Emergency Precautions – Officials in Flagler County have set up a volunteer-run call center for those with questions and will run Wednesday, Thursday and, weather permitting, Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can be reached at 386-586-5111.

The main purpose of the center is to make sure that residents have access to information about preparing for the hurricane.

Flagler County will open an additional general population emergency shelter at Buddy Taylor Middle School. The campus is located at 4500 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast. The shelter will open at 1:00 p.m. Pets are not allowed at this shelter.

Sandbags – Flagler County is also offering sand and sandbags because of the increased flood risks. The sand offered is self-serviced and available during daylight hours. Residents are asked to bring their own shovels for filling bags.

The sandbag pick-up locations are:

  • Fire Station 41, 5593 N. Oceanshore Blvd. in the Hammock
  • Fire Station 71, 89 E. County Road 2006 in western Flagler County
  • Fire Station 92, at the Flagler Executive Airport, 201 Airport Road

The cities of Bunnell, Flagler Beach and Palm Coast in Flagler County are also providing sand bags on a first-come, first-serve basis:

  • Bunnell Fire Station 62, 1601 Old Moody Blvd., Bunnell
  • Flagler Beach Fire Station 1, 320 S. Flagler Ave.
  • Palm Coast Public Works Yard, 1 Wellfield Grade off U.S. 1 north of the Palm Coast Parkway
  • Other Palm Coast locations available at: or by calling 386-986-2360.


School Closures

All schools in Lake County will be closed Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 7).


Marion County Emergency Management is strongly recommending that anyone in the eastern portion of Marion County living in non-site built homes (such as mobile homes) evacuate to safer housing or to one of our three shelter locations.

School Closures - 

All public schools in Marion County will be open on Thursday (Oct. 6) and closed on Friday (Oct. 7).

Emergency Shelters – Marion County Emergency Management is opening a general population shelter at the Marion County Emergency Management Multi-Purpose Room, located at 692 NW 30th Ave. in Ocala.

The Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Marion County will be open to shelter livestock during the storm. All livestock will be accepted between 8 a.m. and 5. p.m. The cost of this sheltering will be $10 a day for a concrete stall. No cash will be accepted and a valid drivers license is required. 188 stalls are available and will be first-come, first-serve only. For more information, contact 352-671-8600.

Marion County Emergency Management has announced two additional shelter openings on Thursday.

Here are the new shelter locations: Belleview Middle School 10500 SE 36th Avenue Belleview, Florida 34420. This will be a Special Needs and General Population Shelter. MCSO Emergency Management will be providing transportation for any special needs individuals. Please call the Citizen Information Line at 352-369-7500 to arrange this transportation. The shelter opens at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 6th.

The second shelter will be located at Vanguard High School, 7 NW 28th Street Ocala, Florida 34475. This shelter is for the General Population and Pet Friendly.

Sandbags – Sandbag locations are up and running at county distribution locations. These locations are self-serve and are open 24/7 until the conclusion of the storm. There is no sandbag limit at these locations:

  • North Multi District Office - 8331 N Hwy 441 Ocala, FL 34479
  • South Multi District Office - 3260 SE 80th St. Ocala, FL 34480
  • Forest District Office - 16000 E Hwy 40 Silver Springs, FL 34488
  • Dunnellon District Office - 19995 SW 86th St. Unit 3 Dunnellon, FL 34433

In Ocala, officials are also offering free sandbags to residents. Sandbags are limited to 10 per household.

Ocala pick-up locations:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Complex, 1510 NW Fourth St.
  • Tuscawilla Park (the large pavilion), 300 NE Sanchez Ave.

The city of Ocala has also cancelled all of their events for Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 7).

Business offices will be closed Friday and will reopen Monday.


School Closures

All schools in Putnam County will be closed Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 7).


All schools in Polk County will be closed Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6 and 7).


School Closures

The St. Johns County School District has closed schools for Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7.

Additional school closures: Cathedral Parish School, Cathedral Parish Early Learning Center, Palmer Catholic Academy, Palmer Catholic Academy Pre-School, San Juan del Rio Catholic School, St. Joseph Academy, St. Thérèse Early Learning Center

Emergency SheltersShelter locations will be opened in conjunction with the official evacuation order beginning at 6 a.m. on Thursday, October 6. The following shelters will be operational at that time:

  • Pacetti Bay Middle School - 245 Meadowlark Lane (Special needs)
  • Timberlin Creek Elementary School - 555 Pine Tree Lane (Pet-friendly)
  • Bartram Trail High School - 7399 Longleaf Pine Pkwy (General population)
  • Pedro Menendez High School - 600 SR-206 West (General population)

County Closures – With the exception of Emergency Operations, St. Johns County will close all offices on Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7. County operations decisions beyond Friday will be determined based on weather conditions.

Sandbags – Sandbag locations are up and running at the standard County distribution locations:

  • Ron Parker Park - 607 Old Beach Road
  • Sims Pit - 536 S. Holmes Boulevard
  • Town of Hastings Town Hall - 6195 S. Main Street, behind the building
  • Mills Field - 1805 Racetrack Road, in the overflow parking area
  • Palm Valley - Under the Palm Valley Bridge

Beaches – St. Johns County beaches are closed to vehicular traffic due to heavy surf and high tides expected from Hurricane Matthew. St. Johns County Marine Rescue is expecting dangerous Red Flag conditions and is asking that beachgoers do not enter the water under any circumstances until storm conditions have subsided.

St. Johns County Administration and Emergency Management staff continue to carefully monitor Hurricane Matthew and are working with a variety of local and State agencies to prepare for its impacts.


School Closures - 

All schools and school activities in Union County will be closed on Friday (Oct. 7).

Compiled from staff and wire reports. WUFT News will provide updates about Hurricane Matthew as they become available.

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news