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Schools shut, evacuation ordered as Hurricane Matthew nears Florida

Florida canceled classes along its Atlantic coastline and theme parks kept a watchful eye as Hurricane Matthew picked up speed heading to the East Coast.

Officials in central Florida’s Brevard County are ordering residents on barrier islands and in flood-prone areas to evacuate in advance of the powerful hurricane. Residents who live in mobile and manufactured homes also are being ordered to leave. In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley contemplated whether to order some 1 million people to leave the coast and planned to release details of her plan soon.

The evacuation is scheduled to take effect at 3 pm (local time), but traffic already was bumper-to-bumper during morning rush hour on Interstate 26 as people fled ahead of the storm. Gasoline was hard to come by during morning rush hour, with at least half a dozen stations in Mount Pleasant out of fuel and lines at others. The state’s attorney general warned stations against price gouging.

In Florida, a message on Walt Disney World’s website on Wednesday says all of its theme parks and resorts are “currently operating under normal conditions” as officials continue to monitor the storm. They advised those who plan on visiting Disney to monitor news outlets for the latest weather information. Officials at SeaWorld in Orlando announced on its website that officials “anticipate altered hours due to Hurricane Matthew.” 

Government officials are worried about complacency, especially in South Florida, which hasn’t seen a major hurricane in 11 years.

In Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest school district, officials said they’ll monitor the storm before making a decision on whether to cancel classes on Thursday and on Friday. The county remains under a tropical storm warning.

From Broward County to the Space Coast - where hurricane warnings are in effect - officials already have closed schools for the rest of the week. Some school districts are sending students home early on Wednesday, and after school activities are canceled. 
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