ATLANTA — Hurricane Matthew made landfall in South Carolina Saturday morning, and moved north into North Carolina before moving back over the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Matthew brought torrential rain, powerful winds, a storm surge to the lower east coast Friday night and Saturday morning.
A third fatality related to harsh weather brought on by Hurricane Matthew has been reported in Georgia, bringing the U.S. death toll from the storm to 10.
Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police said in a statement Saturday that they are investigating the death of a man at his home, possibly from structural damage caused by a fallen tree.
Two other deaths in Georgia occurred in Bulloch County. Three deaths have been reported in North Carolina, and four have occurred in Florida.
The storm made landfall southeast of McClellanville, South Carolina, at 11 a.m. ET as a minimal Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Matthew is off the coast of North Carolina Saturday evening. While the eye of the hurricane isn't over land, the heaviest rains are over the North Carolina, Virginia border.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to weaken and move further away from the east coast Sunday and Monday.
New models show it's not looking very likely that Matthew will head back south next week.
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Matthew will move onto Wilmington, North Carolina, around 8 p.m. Saturday evening. Sustained wind speed will decrease to 80 mph.
The storm will then move out to sea, weakening as it becomes a tropical storm around 8 a.m. Sunday.
Already, many areas of Florida and the southern coast of Georgia have seen storm surge flooding from Matthew.
“The storm surge is the rise of the ocean level. The waves are on top of that,” Severe Weather Team 2’s Brad Nitz said. “The flooding looks to be the greatest threat with this storm,” Nitz said. “There is the possibility of increased wind damage."
Chief meteorologist Glenn Burns says the 6-9-foot surge will be reduced by west and northwest winds by Saturday afternoon.
Hurricane-force winds were near the Georgia coast around 11 p.m. Friday, skirting the area around St. Simons.
Tropical-storm-strength winds will affect all of the coast as the storm passes throughout the evening.
Burns said parts of the Georgia and South Carolina coast could see 10-15 inches of rain.
ST. SIMON ISLAND, Ga.
Georgia's St. Simon's Island was also hit by Hurricane Matthew. Channel 2 Action News found trees blocking several roads and utility crews trying to restore power to most of the island.
Channel 2 Action News found the restaurant Southern Soul was not only open, but they had electricity and were serving free meals.
"We wanted to come back here and feed all the first responders as far as police, EMS, Georgia Power," owner Peter Bufkin said.
A few years ago, the restaurant burned down, but the community and first responders helped them rebuild. He says this is their way of saying thank you.
"We're giving away food tonight, just trying to make people happy. No one is open tonight so we got to feed somebody," Bufkin said.
Some residents who did not evacuate told Channel 2 Action News they second guessed that decision during the height of the storm.
Chatham County and the city of Savannah are still under a mandatory curfew as authorities begin the challenging work of cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew.
Channel 2's Richard Elliot found several trees down, street lights smashed damaged buildings in the Savannah area Saturday.
Elliot reports the main problems were on Tybee Island about 15 miles away from Savannah.
Police worked to keep residents and business owners out of the community. Elliot saw a line of vehicles with frustrated residents anxious to see their properties.
Elliot spoke with Tybee resident Richard Fair who decided to ride out the storm at home, but wish he hadn't.
"It was like a noise I'd never heard before. It blew in my door. It blew in all my windows, blew in all the fences. It was pretty crazy," Fair said.
Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman stopped to speak with Elliot. Buelterman thought his community was facing another Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy, but it didn't happen. He says the damage is substantial, but not as bad as people thought it might be.
"There were quite a few people who stayed out there, and I was fearful for their lives. Thus far we have had no reports of injuries or fatalities," Buelterman said.
Fair says riding out a hurricane is something he'll never do again.
"Once the lights go out, it's a whole different ball game. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone," Fair said.
Charleston, South Carolina is still under a curfew due to massive flooding.
Waves crashing against the sea wall in downtown Charleston marked when Hurricane Matthew made landfall.
Channel 2's Matt Johnson was there as strong winds and heavy rain moved through downtown Saturday morning.
The storm left roads flooded and the downtown area evacuated as most people steered clear of the area.
By Saturday evening, drivers carefully crossed flooded roads 13 miles away in Johns Island.
Johnson found resident Patrick Evers checking up on his boarded up home.
"This is the worst storm since Hugo," Evers said.
Evers and his neighbors are among the hundreds of thousands of people across South Carolina without power.
"Power is out and we'll be without power for a little while, but I still feel really lucky compared to people who are in a worse situation than I am.
Kristin Kifer watched a massive tree nearly fall on top of her home.
"All of a sudden we felt our house shaking and we got up and ran," Kifer said.
The tree also took a power line down with it.
"It was really scary. It was really one of those moments were you go 'Oh man am I going to die?'" Kifer said.
Hurricane Matthew ended up being weaker than officials expected, but strong enough to leave some people shaken up.
The roads are largely deserted in parts of southeast Georgia that's taken a pounding by Hurricane Matthew.
That includes the Brunswick area, where a curfew goes in effect at midnight and police warned those who did not evacuate conditions are too dangerous for rescuers to respond to calls.
The driving rain continued into the night, leaving those who evacuated to a higher and dryer location -- like Frederick Moses and Renaya Wilcox -- wondering what the weekend will bring.
"We're just hoping for the best and expecting the worst, you know you've got to ready for anything," Moses told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.
Some already know Matthew's damage will be devastating. Waters flooded a popular waterfront restaurant overlooking the marshes between Brunswick and St. Simons.
Austin Wells sent the owner video of the flood and said he was shocked.
"It’s been great he hasn't had any major trouble until this storm and hopefully he'll get through it," Wells said.
Matthew pushed tropical storm force winds off the ocean into Brunswick throughout much of the day, shoving the ocean surge into town.
Police closed off three main routes around the coast, and stopped patrolling by mid-afternoon as more and more roads flooded or were blocked by trees.
Nighttime became even more dangerous, and left those who had left wondering what they'll find.
Right now in Jacksonville, more than 200,000 people are waking up without power.
Channel 2's Nicole Carr says the officials really don't know the extent of hurricane damage yet.
You have two different stories in Jacksonville -- the coastal story and the inland story.
Inland, Carr says you'll see huge signs down from wind damage -- and employees with Publix stepped inside the grocery store to stock the shelves with supplies that came in the night before the storm hit.
So for people needing food, this is the first business Carr has seen really opening up.
200,000 people are hoping for their power to be restored this morning.
"Power companies here, they have thousands of people, so to be without power and that's the only thing that happened I'm really lucky,” resident Jenay Clark said.
Now homeowners along the beach do not have access to coast right now.
Bridge access is still restricted and crews have to get in to check out the flooding and damage there.
We know there's a big mess because of storm surge, but it's still up in the air as to when people will be able to back there.
Georgia Power is experiencing widespread outages throughout South East Georgia due to Hurricane Matthew. The following counties have been affected by the outage.
County | Customers Out
Chatham Co. 116,000
Camden Co. 5,000
Glynn Co. 36,000
McIntosh Co. 4,000
Liberty Co. 9,000
Bryan Co. 5,000
Effingham Co. 22,000
Wayne Co. 4,000
Georgia Power and Channel 2 Action News will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide regular updates.
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