Hurricane Matthew kills at least 10 in U.S. as it barrels north
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, October 8, 2016, 3:11 PM
Hurricane Matthew slammed into South Carolina Saturday, continuing its slow march north after wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and skirting the coasts of Florida and Georgia.
At least 10 people were killed across the Southeastern U.S. as the devastating storm was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane and lumbered toward landfall just north of Charleston, near the town of McClellanville.
The winds dropped to 75 mph, down from a recorded 145 mph at the height of the storm’s severity when it ripped across Haiti, killing nearly 900.
Matthew whipped the coastlines of Georgia and South Carolina with torrential rain and stiff winds as its storm center blew ashore.
The hurricane’s eye mercifully remained just far enough out at sea that coastal communities didn’t feel the full force of Matthew’s winds.
As the storm passed one city after another, the reaction was one of relief — that things were nowhere near as bad as many feared.
“We are all blessed that Matthew stayed off our coast,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. “We are blessed that we didn’t have a direct hit.”
The powerful hurricane killed at least four people in Florida and left more than 1 million homes and businesses without electricity.
At least five deaths in Florida and two in Georgia were attributed to the storm, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said three people were killed in his state.
The Florida fatalities included an elderly couple in St. Lucie and two women killed in separate incidents as trees crushed their homes.
“Now is the time for prayer,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said as the storm approached.
Matthew was approaching Charleston early Saturday, where a curfew was in place between midnight and 6 a.m.
More than a million people were under evacuation orders in north Florida and Georgia’s coastal regions as roughly 300,000 people fled their homes in South Carolina.
“We have been very fortunate that Matthews’s strongest winds have remained a short distance offshore of the Florida and Georgia coasts thus far, but this should not be a reason to let down our guard,” the Hurricane Center said in a forecast statement.
Well south of the storm, things began returning to normal Saturday, with all three of Orlando’s main theme parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — reopening in the morning.
A disabled woman and her family were some of the many Savannah residents evacuated to Augusta before the deadly storm struck.
(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
And the power began coming back on for the 1 million people in Florida who were in the dark for roughly 24 hours.
Not eveyone was spared.
The ravaging storm — the worst to threaten the Atlantic Seaboard in more than 10 years — killed at least 877 people in Haiti and left tens of thousands homeless.
Matthew killed at least 877 people and leveled entire villages in Haiti.
(NICOLAS GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Many of the island nation’’s impoverished areas reported that cholera outbreaks were already claiming lives as the storm made its way north.
Northern Floridan, Georgia and the Carolinas were still dealing with flood waters in many areas.
St. Augustine, Fla., the nation’s oldest European settlement, was experiencing severe flooding that authorities said could exceed 8 feet Saturday. A 17th century Spanish fortress and other historic structures were in the water’s path.
The massive storm was expected to severely flood several historic cities across the East Coast of the U.S.
“It’s a really serious devastating situation,” Mayor Nancy Shaver said. “The flooding is just going to get higher and higher and higher.”
Steve Todd, who defied the mayor’s evacuation orders and stayed at his home in Tybee Island — one of the Georgia’s most eastern points — described seeing bushes fly by the windows of his third-story condo, where he hunkered down with friends.
“I’m not regretting staying,” he said over the phone. “But I’m not going to lie: There’s a little bit of nervous tension right now.”
Stacks of sandbags clogged the streets of Charleston, another historic town lined with colonial homes. Stores and shops in the downtown area had boarded up their windows with plywood and the usually bustling area was eerily quiet as the city announced a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew.
With News Wire Services