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Merritt Island, Fla. motel owner stays put, provides rooms despite Hurricane Matthew

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Hurricane Matthew is expected to cause levels of destruction Florida hasn’t seen in nearly 25 years, but despite the danger, one motel owner is staying put to provide shelter.

The Aladdin Motel is located on Merritt Island — a low-lying area under mandatory evacuation orders, The Weather Channel reports Friday.

But despite orders, and warnings from Gov. Rick Scott that body bags will be needed for people who refuse to leave, owner Matt Wells is staying put.

“I have people here,” Wells says of the Aladdin Motel. “It’s an establishment. How do you leave people here and go somewhere else?”

Wells is fearful — for people’s safety, the suffering they face, and the damage the storm is sure to cause to his motel, local businesses and surrounding homes — and in his own words, everyone who has stayed is “a little crazy.”

“I think they’re a little crazy, like I am, for sticking around and hanging out,” Wells said Friday morning.

But, Wells says, locals feel there is no where to flee, and local shelters are filled to capacity.

Wells lived through Hurricane Andrew — the last major hurricane to cause widespread destruction in Florida some 24 years ago — and he predicts, like many others, that Hurricane Matthew will be worse.

Hurricane Matthew's path has been unpredictable, and its strength has changed numerous times.

Currently a Category 3 — meaning winds range between 111 to 129 mph, and devastating damage will likely occur — the storm has yet to make landfall in Florida.

As of 8 a.m., its center is meandering 45 miles east-southeast of Daytona Beach, and is moving north-northwest at 13 mph.

"The exact path is so critical," said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. "Miles and kilometers really count, because if it wobbles westward by say 30 miles, it brings those strong winds onshore."

Hurricane Matthew moved along Florida's east coast Friday morning after moving over three Caribbean countries.

At least 269 people have died, with the majority, 264 people, being killed in Haiti, Civil Protection Service spokesman Joseph Edgard Celestin told CNN.