A weakening Hurricane Matthew lashed Georgia and the Carolinas in what appeared to be last leg of its march up the East Coast, leaving in its wake millions of Americans relieved that one of the most fearsome storms on record in the US wasn’t that bad after all.
The hurricane was blamed for at least 10 deaths in the US, including that of a 68-year-old Georgia man who died when two trees fell on his home. And hundreds were left dead in Matthew’s wake in Haiti.
But in many places along the Southeast coast, the damage consisted mostly of flooded streets, flattened trees and power outages.
As the storm passed and the skies cleared, many people were already cleaning up, reopening their businesses or hitting the beach.
The power started coming back on. And all three major theme parks in Orlando, Florida, including Walt Disney World, were up and running.
“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.”
Matthew yesterday sideswiped two of the South’s oldest and most historic cities Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina and also brought torrential rain and stiff wind to places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina.
From there, it was expected to veer out to sea, lose steam and loop back around toward the Bahamas and Florida, too feeble to cause any trouble.
For nearly its entire run up the coast from Florida, Matthew hung just far enough offshore that communities did not feel the full sting of its winds.
Its storm center, or eye, finally blew ashore just north of Charleston on Saturday, but only briefly. And by that time, Matthew was just barely a hurricane, with winds of just 75 mph.
Within an hour of residents being allowed to return Saturday to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, David Villmow had fired up the two pizza ovens at his beachfront restaurant, The Art of Pizza. He was hoping to start serving customers in a few hours.
“We got really lucky,” he said. “We could be looking at a whole lot worse. All you see are downed signs, downed fences, a few gas station sign letters missing.”
Matthew’s deadly potential was made all too clear in Haiti, where the hurricane roared ashore on Tuesday with terrifying 145 mph winds. At least 470 people were reported dead in one hard-hit district alone, with other devastated areas still unreachable four days later. (AP) AV 10090253