South Georgia communities deal with damage caused by Hurricane Matthew

TYBEE ISLAND

Channel 2's Richard Elliot surveyed the damage Hurricane Matthew inflicted on the streets of Tybee Island Monday.

The storm hit the island hard with winds exceeding 100 mph. With the exception of damaged roofs, the island fared surprisingly well.

Resident John Brown says he stayed in his apartment during the storm. The hurricane ripped off the roof and punched a hole in his wall.

"You can't explain it. You know, it starts... and then all of a sudden, the power went out, you know. It's a false sense of security with the lights, but when that power went out, it was for real," Brown said.

Brown's granddaughter Jessica Wright checked out her water damaged apartment. She rode out the storm on Tybee too.

"And I figured it wouldn't be so bad, but it hit us pretty bad," Wright said.

Georgia National Guard Specialist Nicholas Brisbay loaded up his Humvee for another mission to support Chatham County law enforcement agencies. He says people are glad to see them.

"Well, actually, a lot of support, a lot of waves, a lot of thanks. They give us a lot of support from the whole community, and it's really helpful to our mission as well as the police mission as well," Brisbay said.

Tybee Island is also experiencing some sewage problems due to the storm. They want to get that taken care of before letting people back on the island.

Calvin Ratterree rode out the storm on the island outside his restaurant.

There is no electricity on the island yet and Ratteree didn't want to see all the food in powerless refrigerators go bad.

“It was a little rough at the end. It got pretty rough, but we survived it,” said resident Calvin Ratterree.

Even though residents are now allowed back, the island still has a lot of issues…not the least of which is sewage.

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BRUNSWICK

Channel 2's Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant has been on the ground in Brunswick and beyond over the last several days.

Eileen Harrell returned to her Brunswick home after being forced from her home by fear of Hurricane Matthew's fury. She found a large oak tree she grew up with uprooted, blocking the road and snapping power lines.

"I'm just thankful that it didn't got this way toward the house, and I was grateful it didn't get to the neighbor across the street," Harrell said.

Harrell's husband cut away the parts of the tree he could until help arrives.

Hundreds of power crews are racing around Brunswick working to restore electricity to homes and businesses.

Dee Dee & R.V. Cate's Coffee Shop in downtown Brunswick was nearly untouched.

"I believe it was God's hand covering. It is what I believe," owner R.V. Cate said.

Access to St. Simons Island remains strictly controlled. Officials are concerned about raw sewage in the roads.

Many in Glynn County are feeling a sense of relief at how minimal the damage was.

"The damage really is remarkably minimal relative to what could have happened," Sen. David Perdue said.

SAPELO ISLAND

Channel 2's Investigative Reporter Mark Winne traveled with a Georgia Department of Natural Resources patrol boat as it traveled around Sapelo Island.

Resident Tracy Walker Sr., who grew up on Sapelo Island, said Hurricane Matthew was the worst he's ever seen.

Walker told Winne the damage could have been a lot worse.

DNR Sapelo Island Manager Fred Hay says it will take weeks to clear the hundreds of trees felled by Hurricane Matthew on Sapelo.

Hay estimated 60-80 percent of the island's power lines are affected.

Hay said he doesn't know of a single home on the island with serious structural damage.