Hurricane Matthew and the 2016 election: How the storm could affect the vote in Florida

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Hurricane Matthew is just beginning to make landfall along the eastern coast of Florida, but there's already no shortage of speculation about how the massive storm could affect the upcoming election in one of the country's most crucial battleground states.

With the National Weather Service warning that parts of Florida could be "uninhabitable for weeks or months" due to strong winds and massive storm surges, questions remain about what election officials will do in communities that could see the heaviest damage from the storm.

Of the most immediate concern is voter registration, which is already turning into a battle after Republican Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the Oct. 11 registration deadline because of the storm.

"I'm not going to extend it," Scott, a Republican and chair of the main super PAC supporting Donald Trump, said on Thursday, according to the Miami Herald. "Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don't intend to make any changes."

See how people in Florida are preparing for the storm:

16 PHOTOS
Florida prepares for Hurricane Matthew
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Florida prepares for Hurricane Matthew
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Downtown Miami is pictured in this aerial photo as clouds begin to form in advance of Hurricane Matthew in Miami, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
A man carries tanks filled with gas while other people line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers remove umbrellas at Caffe Milano in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
Workers put up plywood in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers remove umbrellas at the Starlite Hotel in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
Workers tie chairs in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew in South Beach, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Javier Galeano
People queue as they flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their cars with gas in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People line up to fill their LP propane gas cylinders in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Residents buy wooden boards at a store in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
DELRAY BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Danny Askins and Brenden Kavana (R) put up hurricane shutters as they prepare the Sandwiches Sea restaurant as Hurricane Matthew approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Delray Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 06: Kevin Forde (L) and John Haughey put up plywood on a window as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew as it approaches the area on October 6, 2016 in Miami Beach, United States. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime this evening or early in the morning as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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In 2012, about 50,000 voters registered in the last five days ahead of the deadline, according to Daniel Smith, a professor at the University of Florida who studies voting trends.

With Democrats currently leading in new registrations, Scott's refusal to extend the registration deadline could potentially cost Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton votes. Recent polls show Clinton with an average lead of about two percentage points over Trump in Florida.

See Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the recent presidential debate:

35 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump face off in first presidential debate
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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump face off in first presidential debate
U.S. Secret Service agents walk onto the debate floor before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Workers on the stage prepare for the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A TV cameraman works during a rehearsal for the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The media center for the first U.S. presidential debate is seen at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Ivanka Trump arrives for the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, waves to an attendee in the audience ahead of the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's wife, Melania Trump greets with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence looks on before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves after the first presidential debate against Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (not shown) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican nominee Donald Trump leave the stage after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (R) gestures next to Republican nominee Donald Trump during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Moderator Lester Holt presides over the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Melania Trump (L-R), the wife of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, sits with his daughter Ivanka Trump, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and Pence's wife Karen Pence during Trump's first debate against Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani chat as they take their seats ahead of the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrives at the U.S. presidential debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sits with his wife Miriam as they await the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump Democratic and U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Promoter Don King Don King (C) speaks with Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson prior to the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (C) talks with his daughter Chelsea Clinton prior to the first presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. At right is Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News replaces his jacket after a technician fixed his earpiece before the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton discuss a point during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pauses during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump sips water during his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd from L) chats with members of his family after the conclusion of his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
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Similarly, early vote-by-mail ballots are already being delivered and mailed back in to election officials.

If these ballots are lost to storm damage, it could complicate ballot counting next month – and raise problems if the race is close.

In 2012, for example, President Barack Obama won the state by less than a one-point margin — a total that amounted to just over 74,000 votes.

As of Friday morning, the storm moved further out to sea, sparing the southeastern coast of Florida from the damage weather reports initially predicted.

And as of press time, it was unclear whether the same would happen for the Jacksonville area of the state.

Aside from the logistics of the storm, the government's response to the possible damage could also play out in the final month of the race.

In 2012, President Barack Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy — which wreaked havoc in New York's tri-state area — was seen as an October Surprise that benefited Obama's image, thanks in large part to his close cooperation with Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey.

On the other hand, President George W. Bush's response to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 lowered his approval even further.

Learn more about the massive storm:

57 PHOTOS
Hurricane Matthew approaches islands south of the United States
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Hurricane Matthew approaches islands south of the United States
Hurricane Matthew is seen in the Caribbean Sea in this enhanced infrared image from NOAA's GOES-East satellite taken at 8:15am ET (12:15 GMT) October 4, 2016. NOAA/Handout via REUTERS FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A general view as Hurricane Matthew approaches Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A wave splashes on the beach at Siboney ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, Cuba, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sinister-looking face of #HurricaneMatthew at landfall in #Haiti [Un-doctored #weather #satellite image] https://t.co/hrviDVuJ3R
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A saleswoman shows lamps to a customers while other people flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tourists from Canada and Russia enjoy the beach before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A woman protects herself from rain as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A dog crosses a road as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Workers place plywood over the windows of a hotel in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A TV is left on the ground as it is transported to a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a room at a soccer stadium being used as a shelter while Hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Boats are secured off as residents look on at Port Royal while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers load a tuck with flour to distribute an extra portion to local bakeries ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Vendors sell their goods on the street while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Members of a family warm themselves next to a fire while Hurricane Matthew approaches Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Yosvan Anaya speaks to a friend (not pictured) in a cave in a cliff face to be used as a shelter ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People queue as they flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Adolfo Leiva, who is self-employed, puts sandbags over the roof of his home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A baby touches her mother's shoulder as they rest at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
People take their belongings to shelters prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People look out at the sea as hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Vendors sell their goods on the street while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man looks out at the sea as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a room at a soccer stadium being used as a shelter while Hurricane Matthew approaches Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
An interior view of Norman Manley International Airport is seen as it shuts down on Monday ahead of Hurricane Matthew, in Kingston, Jamaica October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Women rest at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman with two of her children rest on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A boy rests on the floor at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A girl rests on the floor at the a set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Workers load a tuck with flour to distribute an extra portion to local bakeries ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Fisherman Enrique Albelo, 48, ties his boat ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A man wets his feet in the sea as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A girl looks at anchored boats as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Two men look at anchored boats as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Inesia Laguerre cradles her grandchild at the shelter set up in the Lycee Philippe Guerrier ahead of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Vendors wait for clients on a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Vendors sell their goods on a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Vendors sell their goods at a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People carry their goods along a street market while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People flock to the supermarket to take care of their last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Waves are seen as Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A boat is secured at Port Royal as Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Boats which are secured are seen near residents at Port Royal while Hurricane Matthew approaches, in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Traffic moves slowly as heavy rains caused by the outer rain bands of Hurricane Matthew move into Kingston, Jamaica, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
A man carries a TV to a shelter prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Siboney, Cuba, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A man drinks a beer outside a boarded up shop at Norman Manley airport as hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A man holds a bottle of water while people flock to the supermarket to take care of last minute shopping as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Workers cover the doors and windows at a hotel as Hurricane Matthew approaches in Kingston, Jamaica October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
People stand in line for last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, October 1, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans flock to the supermarkets to take care of last minute shopping pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
Jamaicans stand next to shopping carts filled with bottled water and other items outside a supermarket, pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
A man carries empty water containers while chatting with another man outside a supermarket, pending the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Jamaica, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
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