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In Florida, Latino Families Brace for Hurricane Matthew

As Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida, a state with the country's third largest Latino population, residents were bracing for the worst.
Image: Florida Prepares As Hurricane Matthew Barrels Towards Atlantic Coast
Kevin Forde, left, and John Haughey put up plywood on a window Thursday in Miami Beach.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Miami resident Carolina Calzada and her husband were preparing for a hurricane described as "devastating" and "deadly" by state officials that already has millions of families evacuating coastal areas.

As Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida, a state with the country's third largest Latino population, residents were bracing for the worst.

Experts predict storm surges between Melbourne, Florida and Savannah, Georgia could be 10 to 12 feet — the highest storm surges ever predicted for that region of area. The National Hurricane Center predicts the same area could receive more than 15 inches of rainfall in a 72-hour period.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall or near-landfall Thursday night between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Areas like Fort Lauderdale and parts of Miami have experienced brown outs and power outages and gusts of 60 miles per hour. NBC News reports 12,000 power outages in Florida have occurred before the hurricane has even made landfall.

Though Miami is south of where the storm is expected to hit landfall, Calzada was closing shutters over the windows and removing projectiles from the yard. She said the family briefly contemplated going to stay with her husband's family on Florida's west coast, but opted to stay home with their two young children.

"I survived Hurricane Andrew," she said. "It has been almost 25 years since Andrew, and when another storm like [Hurricane Matthew] happens, people take it seriously. People remember Andrew so they take the necessary precautions."

Click here for all Hurricane Matthew coverage on NBC News.

In Melbourne, MSNBC's Mariana Atencio interviewed several families who heeded the authorities' calls to seek shelter away from their homes. One of them was a Hispanic family who was worried about their supply of diapers and baby formula.

The storm has regained Category 4 strength, packing gusts as fast a 145 mph; the storm could potentially reach Category 5.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said bluntly, "This storm will kill you," continuing to warn residents the impact would be "catastrophic." Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted, "If you live in Florida, you need to take this deadly storm seriously."

Roberto Baltodano, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, said people hunkering down at home should avoid windows. The safest areas in the home are windowless rooms, Baltodano said.

“I am pleased people seem to have prepared and listened and heard the message of coming to a safe place,” saying that the majority of residents who were in areas where they were asked to evacuate had done so.

Hurricane Matthew barreled over Haiti and parts of Cuba. The death toll is 114, and at least 108 people died in Haiti, according to the Twitter account for the country's embassy in Washington. The death toll is expected to rise after a full assessment of the damage and casualties.

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