Picking up the pieces: Florida residents left 'feeling blessed' after Hurricane Matthew 'only' kills ten and moves north after sideswiping the Sunshine State
- Hurricane Matthew is on the last leg of its march up the south east coast of the United States
- Residents are 'feeling blessed' as fears the storm could have caused major loss of life are not realized
- As the hurricane passed and the skies cleared, many people were already cleaning up
- For nearly its entire run up the coast from Florida, Matthew hung just far enough offshore that communities did not feel the full force of its winds
- Matthew's deadly potential was made all too clear in Haiti, where the hurricane killed almost 1,000 people
- Almost two million people in Florida, Carolinas and Georgia were left without power by Matthew
Residents of a Florida neighborhood located feet from the Atlantic Ocean said they had a ‘very lucky escape’ from Hurricane Matthew but admitted that others on the coast had not been so fortunate.
Clean-up operations were in full swing on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville Beach where surfers, cyclists and dog-walkers had returned to the shoreline as temperatures rose to the mid-80s and the sun shone. The area had been labelled a ‘mandatory evacuation zone A’ for the category-3 hurricane.
Apart from isolated pockets of flooding caused by much-feared storm surges and torrential rain, the odd broken window and debris, residents said things were not as bad as they had feared but were quick to point out those who had suffered losses.
Not so bad: Debris and sand in a road in Jacksonville Beach, Florida following Hurricane Matthew - the hurricane was blamed for at least 10 deaths in the U.S.
Little damage: Police officers remove debris from a road in Jacksonville as the state capital got back on its feet following Hurricane Matthew
Volunteers: Red Cross workers move sand out from a Jacksonville Beach lifeguard station after beginning the clean up following Hurricane Matthew
Back to normal: In many places along the Southeast coast, the damage consisted mostly of flooded streets, blown-down signs and awnings, flattened trees and power outages
Party time? Employees remove boards from the The Wreck Tiki Bar and Lounge after weathering the storm that passed through
There were reports of ‘catastrophic damage’ down the coast on Anastasia Island where people had lost their entire homes.
The hurricane has claimed at least ten lives in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The death toll also continues to rise in Haiti where at least 900 people have been killed by the hurricane and many areas were still unreachable four days on from the disaster where winds reached 145mph.
Homeowners who had heeded warnings to evacuate in Jacksonville Beach returned to their homes around midday on Saturday. Some 2 million people along the eastern coastline had been urged to evacuate by officials.
Terri Clemens, who lives just a few blocks from the beach, told DailyMail.com that she and her husband were relieved to have come home after three days to find no flooding and only debris in their yard.
Residents in Flagler County assess the damage by the beach on Saturday after the storm
Workers begin repairs on a row of roofs in Daytona Beach on Saturday. Almost two million homes were left without power by the hurricane and thousands are in shelters across the east coast
A man surveys the damage done to his neighbor's home in Ponte Vedra Beach on Saturday morning when the state awoke to clear skies
Hanging in there: Two Flagler Beach residents consoled one another as the town woke up to wrecked beaches and destroyed homes
Beach structures were shattered by the storm in St Augustine. Debris was left scattered across the sand on Saturday
In St Augustine, huge swathes of the beach were torn out by the storm to expose beachfront homes' foundations
Felled trees were commonplace across Jacksonville as the mass clean-up job commenced on Saturday
Brushing up: Three-quarters of a million people in South Carolina were left without electricity, and 250,000 were in the dark in coastal Georgia. About 1 million people in Florida lost power
Balmy weather and clearing skies: Debris in front of Joe's Crab Shack following Hurricane Matthew in Jacksonville Beach
Life goes on at the beach: Surfers Nick Kenyan and Cassie Kline (right) on Jacksonville Beach pose up before hitting the waves where they were joined by another man (left) keen to get back to normal
No drama: As the storm passed and the skies cleared, many people were already cleaning up, reopening their businesses or hitting the beach
What hurricane: For nearly its entire run up the coast from Florida, Matthew hung just far enough offshore that communities did not feel the full force of its wind
Flooding was seen in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville on Saturday morning, 24 hours after the storm began to batter Florida
In Ormond Beach, Florida, Joe Lovece assesses the damage to his kitchen after the storm
The roof of a business lies on a street after the eye of Matthew passed by Daytona Beach, Florida
Workers clean debris caused by Hurricane Matthew at a resort in Daytona Beach, Florida on Saturday
The bell tower at the Plaza hotel suffered significant damage, with chunks of it falling to the ground
A Seminole mobile home park resident climbs over a uprooted tree in Fort Pierce, Florida after Matthew blew past the area; her home appears to be largely intact
The roof of a gas station in Jacksonville was toppled by winds as fast as 105mph
The couple, who have lived in the area for four years, had not experienced a hurricane before. Matthew was the most powerful hurricane to threaten the U.S. in more than ten years.
‘The City of Jacksonville said they would prefer if we evacuated, so we left on Wednesday night. We got a hotel near the airport. Everybody around us left,’ she said.
From her hotel room, she had watched a video on Facebook which showed water rushing up her street from the beach.
She said: ‘I was worried sick but if this is the worst we have, I really feel we have been very fortunate. We got really lucky.
‘We expected water up to the front door and especially in the garage so when we opened it up, it was just a huge sigh of relief. When we had seen that video of water rushing this way, I was ready for the whole downstairs to be flooded. I was already picking out new flooring but luckily we made it.’
Damage: Sunrise Surf Shop, which had its awning ripped down by Hurricane Matthew
Rode out the storm: Terri Clemens stands in front of her home, which was spared
While Matthew's wind speed had dropped considerably by the time it hit the Southeast coast, the storm will still go down as one of the most potent hurricanes on record, based on such factors as wind energy and longevity, and one of the most long-lived major hurricanes, too
Day out: A family crosses the road as they make their way tot he beach in Jacksonville in Florida on Saturday
At the beach, Red Cross worker, Elise, told DailyMail.com that they had been at their beachfront headquarters since 7am doing clean-up but that the whole area seemed to have gotten off lightly.
‘There was sand up to the door, a lot of foam and a little water to mop up. But we were definitely very lucky in this area. Down south the damage has been much worse,’ she said.
Others are the lifeguard station said around 150 feet of the pier had been wiped out, sand dunes were washed away and there was damage to walkways to the beach.
At Joe’s Crab Shack, employee Jared Stanton was sweeping up debris. He said apart from one broken window and a little bit of roof damage, the oceanview restaurant was unscathed.
‘I was expecting a lot worse,’ he said. ‘It definitely wasn’t as bad as predicted. The power came back on around 1pm.’
He said the restaurant would probably be open on Sunday.
Stephen Chelgren, owner of The Wreck Tiki Bar & Lounge on the beachfront, was working with a crew to open as soon as possible. ‘We have been very fortunate and we are getting back to business as soon as we have everything in order with officials and it’s safe for customers,’ he said.
He said that they had prepared days in advance and boarded up the windows. He said there was virtually no damage inside except for some puddles of water.
At Sunrise Surf shop, sections of the roof had been shorn off by high winds. Regulars in the parking lot said that although the damage looked bad, there had been no water damage inside the store.
Not everyone had heeded the official advice to evacuate. Surfers, Cassie Klein and Nick Kenyon, were some of the beach residents who disobeyed the orders and stayed at home, just a few blocks from the ocean.
She said: ‘We were planning to evacuate on Thursday or Friday and had our bags packed. On Friday, we set alarm for 4am and then 6am to watch the news reports but in the end we decided to stay.
‘It’s not the smartest thing to do and people told us we were stupid. But we stocked up on non-perishables and plenty of water. A lot of people did evacuate so it was really empty.
‘We even went out a couple of times including when the hurricane was meant to be at its worst between 4-5pm. It was okay but there was a lot of flooding.
‘We thought it would be way worse,’ she said, noting that they were lucky the eye of the storm had been far enough off-shore to not feel the full brunt of its power.
Kenyon added: ‘Living in Florida, we are used to this. We were told we were all going to die and we didn’t. But after this, the danger is that we get a Category-5 storm and everyone thinks it’s a false alarm and no one evacuates.’
He pointed to neighboring areas up and down the coast, including Flagler and Neptune beaches, which had not fared so well.
Out for a ride: A boy takes his bike out through the streets of Jacksonville in Florida as residents prepare to clean up after Hurricane Matthew
Around an hour south of Jacksonville Beach, Commander Chuck Mulligan from the St John’s County Sheriff’s Office told DailyMail.com that Anastasia Island off St Augustine had suffered ‘catastrophic’ damage and some homes had been completely destroyed.
No fatalities or serious injuries had been reported in the area so far. The commander knew of one rescue by emergency personnel after an individual in a wheelchair got too close to the water’s edge and fell into the intercoastal waterway. The person, who clinged to a trash can to survive, was pulled from the water by rescuers who waded in.
Mulligan said access to the island had now been restored via some bridges but Crescent Beach Bridge and Shands Bridge remained closed until further notice because of underlying structural damage.
In the historic city of St Augustine, around an hour south of Jacksonville, the streets were littered with debris and several trees had fallen. By Saturday, most of the flooding to city streets had receded.
Along the shoreline of Anastasia Island, several properties were seen with damaged roofs and collapsed piers.
The majority of damage from Matthew came from fallen trees and power lines, beach erosion and flooded roads. The A1A highway which hugs the coast was in pieces near Daytona beach. Power was slowly being restored to the 1 million people who lost it.
Among the fatalies, were an elderly couple in St Lucie, Florida who died form carbon monoxide fumes from their generator. Two women died when trees fell on their home and camper van in Florida. A man in a wheelchair died in Georgia when trees fell on his home.
Hurricane Matthew had dropped to a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon as it moved towards North Carolina and back out to sea.
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