Hurricane Matthew Kills Hundreds in Its Destructive Path

As Hurricane Matthew bashed the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday, Oct. 8, it has left behind hundreds—if not thousands—of people dead, destroying thousands of homes and businesses in its path of destruction.

Georgia and the Carolinas

Hurricane Matthew churned along just off the coast of Georgia as a Category 2 storm, passing Savannah early Saturday morning before moving to around 20 miles off of Charleston, S.C. It touched land about 40 miles northeast of Charleston over the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge near McClellanville, S.C.

It flooded historic downtown Charleston and other areas on Saturday morning. Residents are being cautioned against immediately returning home. Officials have urged residents to stay put and expect to return home late Saturday or Sunday, especially since much of the cleanup process will not begin until early Sunday morning.

Damage assessments were underway Saturday and it was reported that several roads were impassable as a result of significant flooding. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said around “100 roads and streets in the city were closed because of high water.”

A curfew for the city of Charleston was announced to be enforced between 8 p.m. Saturday until 8 a.m. on Sunday. Many schools in the affected areas of South Carolina are expected to be closed on Monday.

By 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, as a Category 1 storm, Hurricane Matthew hit Myrtle Beach, S.C., and headed toward Wilmington N.C.

Florida

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Hurricane Matthew Approaching South Florida

On Thursday evening, those south of West Palm Beach, Fla., were fortunate to experience minimal damage but areas north of south Florida were not so lucky. The coast of Florida was severely battered, sustained heavy rains, and flooding after Hurricane Matthew slowly moved along it projected path into Friday.

In the oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Fla., the historic downtown area experienced extensive flooding. It is being reported as being possibly the hardest hit region in Florida.

The storm surge, in conjunction with high tide, pushed water over the sea wall and into the city, flooding most of the historic downtown section.

Currently, the city is closed as damage assessments are made to determine a plan of reentry. Police Officers and emergency personnel are the only ones allowed access. The Florida Department of Transportation has been examining bridges to determine whether they are structurally secure enough to handle the weight of vehicles.

The National Guard is blocking the Bridge of Lions, turning away those attempting to access the barrier islands. Once access is permitted, residents and business owners will be required to display a “reentry” tag, along with a driver’s license or government-issued identification.

In Flagler Beach, the beach was washed away by the pounding waves and some of A1A was destroyed by the storm.

In a region not affected by a hurricane in nearly 118 years, Jacksonville and the surrounding areas did not have any reports of significant widespread damage from Hurricane Matthew according to a statement released by Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham.

An order for evacuation has been lifted for residents in A, B, and C. It is uncertain if Duval County Public Schools will be reopened at this point, especially since many of the schools are being used as shelters. An announcement is to be released on Sunday, Oct.9. The Florida Department of Health in Duval County has placed a boil water notice and is urging residents to take precautions against contaminated water by boiling water for at least one minute prior to using.

While some areas were subjected to downed trees, blocked roads, loss of power and flooding, the city of Jacksonville did not experience the damage that could have occurred if Hurricane Matthew had come farther inland. Many of the bridges in Jacksonville have already been reopened. The Jacksonville Pier was damaged, some of it lost as a result of the storm, as seen from this aerial shot.

Stormwater rushed onto Jacksonville Beach during the hurricane.

Bahamas

Hurricane Matthew passed through the Bahamas on Thursday afternoon as a Category 4 storm after pushing through Haiti and Cuba.

Although there were no fatalities reported as a result of the storm, it caused significant damage to Nassau, Freeport and other regions of the Bahamas.

Cuba

Cuba was hit by Hurricane Matthew as a Category 4 storm on the eastern section of the island on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Hundreds of homes in historic Baracoa were destroyed or damaged in the storm.

“Hundreds of people from Baracoa, Maisí and other territories to the east of Guantánamo have had their houses partially or completely destroyed,” wrote Rosa Martinez for the Havana Times. “Buildings considered strong have collapsed; the structures in front of the seawall in Baracoa lost their doors and windows. State entities in Baracoa such as the La Rusa hotel, several schools, and the Primada Visión telephone center lost their roof covering.”

No storm-related fatalities have been reported.

Haiti and Dominican Republic

In the affected states, Hurricane Matthew left at least 10 people dead. However, in Haiti, the story is more horrendous as it has left at least 900 people dead, destroyed at least 20,000 homes, and flooded many regions of the island. The hurricane passed directly over Les Cayes as a Category 4 storm, the southwestern peninsula of Haiti. It was ravaged by 145 mph winds, torrential downpour, and severe flooding.

Some of the hardest hit areas have been completely cut off by land, leaving them inaccessible. The main road to Port-au-Prince, the capital, has been destroyed. Aid officials are reporting nearly 90 percent of these regions have been leveled entirely.

Cholera outbreaks have killed several people due to the mixing of sewage and drinking water. More cases are expected to surface. “Due to massive flooding and its impact on water and sanitation infrastructure, cholera cases are expected to surge after Hurricane Matthew and through the normal rainy season, until the start of 2017,” the Pan American Health Organisation said in a statement.

The number of people needing assistance is closing in on 350,000. The United States was reported to be arranging for the naval vessel USS Mesa Verde to assist with rescue efforts, in addition to sending nine military helicopters to deliver necessities to the hardest-hit regions in Haiti.

The Dominican Republic recorded at least four deaths. Authorities report at least 35,000 have been displaced. Just over 3,000 homes were partially damaged and 20 destroyed.

At its peak, Hurricane Matthew surged to a Category 5 storm, with winds of 160 mph and gusts reaching up to 155 mph. Its maximum diameter was nearly 250 miles wide, as measured off the coast of Florida, and is still being tracked on its 12th day. The storm is expected to head out into the Atlantic Ocean where it will eventually dissipate.


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