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Body bags will be needed if people don’t evacuate: Florida sheriff

Residents of St. Simons, Georgia board up their homes in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on October 6, 2016.

Residents of St. Simons, Georgia board up their homes in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on October 6, 2016.

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The sheriff of a Florida county expected to get pummeled by Hurricane Matthew warned Thursday that they’ll need body bags for those refusing to evacuate, NBC News reported.

“People do not seem to get it and are not leaving,” a frustrated Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said. “I’m not saying this to be theatrical … I asked my captain of detectives if he had body bags because if we get 140 mph winds in mobile home parks, we are going to have fatalities.”

Hurricane Matthew continued its powerful advance toward Florida’s east coast Thursday night as the storm’s outer bands hammered the state with wicked winds and increasingly heavy rain.

If the storm’s wrath isn’t enough on its own, the possibility of up to 11 feet of storm surge could leave hundreds of thousands of homes inundated with water and without power.

“We are already starting to see the impacts (from Hurricane Matthew), and it’s a monster,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at an evening news conference. Scott told residents in evacuation zones to go inland. “You still have time to leave. Get out. There’s no reason to take a chance.”

Officials from Miami to North Carolina don’t intend to risk their residents’ safety. Residents who aren’t under mandatory evacuation orders have been warned to remain vigilant and be prepared to outmaneuver the storm, depending on its track.

Here’s what you need to know:

• The storm has killed at least 269 people in three Caribbean countries. The majority, 264 people, died in Haiti, said Civil Protection Service spokesman Joseph Edgard Celestin.

• Matthew remains a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory. As of 8 p.m. ET, Matthew was located about 75 miles east of West Palm Beach. The center of the storm was moving northwest at 13 mph.

• President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for Florida and South Carolina.

• Based on the latest projections, Matthew could make landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm, or it could skirt the coast and head north.