People desperate for supplies are brawling in Florida grocery stores over items as simple as water before Hurricane Matthew hits tonight.

American man Joshua Higgins videoed two women bashing each other over the last container of water in Polk County, Florida.

They punch, pull each other's hair, whip one another with a handbag before one of the women uses a trolley to ram the other into a tower of boxes.

That lady responds by picking up canned goods and throwing it at her before the woman pushes over the trolley and stampedes towards her.


Higgins wasn't surprised to see the women fight and other people were hitting one another for other basic food items.

"It's America. We fight all the time. I've seen worse.

"There's multiple fights. Not just that one. People grabbing the last of water and then start yelling at one another. Ending up physically fighting over it.

"Common stuff really."

No one tried to break up the women. The video shows the manager on the phone but he didn't step in between the women.

"Them ladies would have beat him up."

The most powerful storm to threaten the US Atlantic coast in more than a decade, Hurricane Matthew has steamed toward heavily populated Florida with terrifying winds of 225km/h, as two million people across the southeast were warned to flee inland.

It has already battered Haiti and Cuba in the past few days, claiming 283 lives so far. Florida authorities are ordering body bags and preparing for "mass casualties".

Higgins, who claims he's never been in a supermarket fight, said these fights happen all the time. But particularly around the Black Friday sales, Christmas and now hurricanes. He described shopping as "loud".

"Tons of people. Empty shelves. Loud. Occasional yelling from people in a panic.

"You have to remember, Florida hasn't had a severe hurricane in many years. A lot of these people don't know how to handle the situation calmly."

The 34 year old managed to get one pack of 20 470mL water bottles for his own family, which is fortunate as he explained water has been scarce since Wednesday.

"Water has been gone since yesterday. People are even trying to sell $5 water for $20 on Facebook. Price gouging. Which is illegal in America."

Higgins said the weather is starting to pick up with massive winds whirling around. While there's no rain clouds move across the sky in seconds. Branches are dropping all around their house while the streets are spookily "dead silent" with the absence of traffic.

Higgins, his wife and four children are sleeping in a room where trees can't reach them. He said they had weathered hurricanes before but none as strong as this one.