Hurricane Matthew Makes Landfall in South Carolina and Brings Massive Flooding
Hurricane Matthew — the most powerful storm to threaten the U.S. in more than a decade — has finally made landfall in the United States.
After sweeping through the Caribbean and leaving a path of devastation in Haiti and the Bahamas, Matthew had been bordering the United States’ East Coast. On Friday, its 115 mph winds and 12 ft. storm surges left hundreds of thousands in the Sunshine State without power and killed at least six.
Now downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane by the National Hurricane Center, the storm touched down in South Carolina late Saturday morning were it brought 85 mph winds and up to 7 ft. storm surges.
Forecasters predict up to 15 inches of rain, which when combined with the coastal water could cause life-threatening inland flooding, CNN reports.
Matthew’s center crossed between Charleston and Myrtle Beach just before 11 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said — flattening trees and hitting the state’s historic buildings. They predict places like Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Wilmington, North Carolina could be hit the hardest.
“Now is the time we ask for prayer,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday night, NBC News reports.
“This has the potential for the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Saturday during a news conference, NBC News reports. “We’re already starting to see houses being impacted, and the heart of the storm is starting to hit us.”
Floyd hit North Carolina hard in 1999. The Category 2 storm killed at least 52 people across the state and racked up billions of dollars in damage. 2.5 million residents across five sates were evacuated to prepare for the last major storm of the ’90s.
Officials in South Carolina prepped their residents for the Matthew — evacuating homes and declaring a state of emergency. About a quarter of the state’s residents — about 1.1 million people — from nearly 100 miles from its coastal shorelines fled beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. One hundred miles of I-26 East was be reversed, allowing South Carolina residents to exit — but not return.
Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina did the same — though luckily, Florida and Georgia were sparred what experts said could have been catastrophic damage, ABC News reports.
“There’s a lot of flooding, a lot of downed trees, a lot of people without power,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a press conference on Saturday, CBS News reports. “This state’s a resilient place. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this state’s going to come back.”
Matthew is expected to approach North Carolina’s southern coast by Saturday night, the National Hurricane Center says.