US President Barack Obama warned on Wednesday that Hurricane Matthew could have a devastating effect as residents of southeastern US states were bracing themselves for one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in almost a decade.
"This is a serious storm," said Obama here after visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters. "Even if you don' t get the full force of the hurricane, we are still going to be seeing tropical force winds, the potential for storm surge, and all of that could have a devastating effect."
According to the US National Hurricane Centre, the deadly Category 3 hurricane was roughly 169 km, south of Long Island in the Bahamas on Wednesday morning.
"We anticipate that by tomorrow morning, it will already begin to have significant effect in Florida, and then has the potential to strengthen and move on up the coast during the course of the day," said Obama.
So far, the hurricane had claimed five lives in Haiti, and the UN Children's Fund warned on Tuesday that more than 4 million children could be exposed to the damage of the hurricane on the impoverished Caribbean island.
In preparation for the upcoming hurricane, U.S. state of South Carolina would start evacuate over 1 million residents from its coastal areas later on Wednesday and Governor Rick Scott of Florida had urged coastal residents to stock three days' worth of food, water and medicine.