After Hurricane Matthew hit, you’d be forgiven for confusing Lumberton, North Carolina with the canals of Venice. Though the storm has thankfully quieted down, it’s cities like Lumberton and those along the southeastern edge of the United States who have paid the heaviest price. Cities like Orlando, FL; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Lumberton were hit with heavy winds in excess of 140 miles per hour and relentless rains.
As of 11:21 local time this morning, five counties in North Carolina and three in South Carolina are still under flood warnings. Weather Underground reports that, although the rain has stopped, 12-18 inches of water have accumulated and many cities and towns flooded due to Matthew.
The National Weather Service predicts that the massive amount of water runoff will lead to small creeks and streams flooding, and still recommends avoiding areas where water covers the roadway. Many citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia were under evacuation orders, with SC governor Nikki Haley warning citizens to get at least 100 miles from the coastline.
Early Monday, the sky in Myrtle Beach was nearly black even before nightfall, and high winds were stirring up rough waves as well. Residents of coastal South Carolina were ordered to evacuate by no later than Tuesday at 3 p.m. CNN found that the warnings about Matthew were similar to those given before Hurricane Katrina in 2005:
“Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 12 to 24 hours,” the weather service warned.”
Matthew has since been downgraded from a Category 1 (weakest hurricane) to a tropical storm, but the storm’s wrath is far from over. A total of 1,027 fatalities have been recorded in correlation with Matthew.
Nineteen of those casualties occurred in the U.S. One recurring news story told the tale of an elderly woman in FL who died of a heart attack during the storm. However, it was unclear whether the two incidents were related.
Fox8 mentions that there are nearly 1,500 people stranded in North Carolina due to Matthew and that helicopter teams are currently rescuing people from rooftops.
Floods are only the beginning of the problem, though; Carolina’s governor tweeted that there are still over 400,000 total power outages due to the storm. McRory also advised residents not to try and remove downed trees or power lines from their homes.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott issued an update on the Hurricane’s devastation. Scott reported that Comcast is opening up dozens of Wi-Fi hotspots to access so people can stay in touch with their loved ones and get updates as they happen.
Evacuation Orders And Details
The hotspots are available in SC, FL, and GA. The report also mentions that the Florida National Guard has completed most of its missions and the majority of units are being deactivated.
Additionally, there are seven shelters open in Florida to protect refugees of Hurricane Matthew who cannot return to their houses. All orders to evacuate have been lifted in both South Carolina and Florida.
Matthew By The Numbers
The total damages Matthew exacted are not fully calculated in Florida. Not since 2007’s Hurricane Felix has a Category 5 hurricane made landfall. As the NASA Earth Observatory discovered, Felix ravaged areas like Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Guatemala with 160-MPH winds. The highest winds Matthew managed to bring were around 140 MPH.
Matthew was also the longest-lived Cat 4 or 5 hurricane in recent history, as the Weather Channel will tell. Previously, the record was held by Flora (1963), which lasted 66 hours on land. Hurricanes typically expend more energy when over dry land and thus downgrade.
An estimate of the damage Matthew caused from Newsy places the possible cost at $4-$6 billion, though clipped that is towards the lower end. By contrast, Hurricane Floyd caused nearly $3 billion worth of damage when it clipped the coast of North Carolina in 1999.
[Featured Image by Rob Foldy/Getty Images]