Officials were bracing for Hurricane Matthew to hit Florida, as the storm was expected to regain Category 4 strength before making landfall. At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Matthew was located about 65 miles northwest of the eastern tip of Cuba and was making its way north. The storm has killed nine people so far and left a damaged Haiti, still recovering from a 2010 earthquake, in its wake. A storm surge had begun to hit the Bahamas on Wednesday morning, as the National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch throughout Florida and up the coast to Fernandina Beach, north of Jacksonville. Storm winds are expected to hit the coast Thursday, even before the hurricane itself makes landfall. Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys are largely under tropical-storm warnings. “You need to take this very seriously,” National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said. “The impacts are going to happen no matter what.” An evacuation decree in South Carolina has ordered an estimated 1.1 million people to flee the state’s coastal and beach areas, with officials urging them to get at least 100 miles inland, causing massive traffic tie-ups.