Out of all the hours of exhaustive Hurricane Matthew coverage, one 20-second clip stands out.
A Fox news anchor’s Florida forecast was up a notch from the tone Gov. Rick Scott took in his many of his news conferences.
On Thursday, Shepard Smith, who used to work at Miami’s WSVN-Channel 7, pointed at a floor-to-ceiling map of the then-Cat 4 hurricane’s projected path and told viewers:
“This moves 20 miles to the west, and you and everyone you know are dead. All of you. Because you can’t survive it. It’s not possible unless you’re very, very lucky. And your kids die, too.”
The reaction online? A mix of “the truth hurts” and accusations that Smith crossed a line.
“Would you prefer that he sugarcoat a possibly fatal situation? They will die, and so will their kids. Evacuate,” one man wrote in response.
Those who saw the line as fear-mongering had a more laid back approach to the anchor’s comments. “This is the ‘you will get chlamydia and die’ of weatherman” one woman wrote.
Gov. Scott’s message to Floridians was equally dire in Thursday morning news conferences through the state.
“This storm will kill you,” Scott said during a morning briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. If “you’re in an evacuation area, get out. Don’t take a chance.”
“Do not surf. Do not go to the beach. This will kill you,” he added.
Some have criticized the governor’s doom-and-gloom outlook, but even with mandatory evacuations in place, many decided to stay and weather the storm.
“My biggest concern is people aren’t taking this seriously enough,” warned Scott at his third hurricane briefing of the day from St. Johns County Thursday afternoon. “I don’t want people to lose their life.”
Matthew devastated Haiti, claiming almost 300 lives and laying waste to an already fragile nation. Homes were “reduced to tinder” in Cuba, and the Bahamas is reporting extensive damage and flooding.