After battering Florida’s east coast, a weakened Hurricane Matthew churned slowly north early Saturday, bringing dangerous storm surges and heavy rain to Georgia and South Carolina.
Matthew, which still packs 105 miles per hour winds, is expected to move into South Carolina Saturday morning and reach North Carolina by night.
Storm surges could reach from six to nine feet above high tide from Jacksonville, Florida, up through Charleston, South Carolina.
The storm has killed at least 300 people in three Caribbean countries. The majority died in Haiti, said Civil Protection Service spokesman Joseph Edgard Celestin.
Matthew also was blamed for the deaths of four people in Florida.
The dead included a woman in her 60s in Volusia County who was killed by a falling tree and an 82-year-old man and a woman in St. Lucie County, officials said. The latter two had medical emergencies and responders were unable to reach them in time because of hazardous weather.
A woman in northeast Florida died after a tree fell on her camper trailer, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said.
Matthew left more than 1 million people without power as it spent the day plowing north just off Florida’s east coast. Water from the storm rushed through streets, making roadways look more like rivers, in parts of Jacksonville, Merritt Island, Fleming Island and other Florida communities.
Here’s what you need to know:
• As of 2 a.m. ET, Matthew’s center was over the Atlantic, about 45 miles south of Hilton Head, South Carolina and 95 miles south-southeast of Charleston, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 60 miles from that center. It was moving north at 12 mph.
• A total of 1.2 million customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are without power.
Florida left drenched
• Florida coped with the rising water, rain and strong winds as meteorologists said the storm surge had been measured at more than 4 feet in some areas.
• Jacksonville was not battered as heavily as initially feared. But several communities nearby received extensive damage with water surging down some streets, and massive trees toppled over. The Jacksonville Beach Pier washed away Friday morning, according to WFOX/WJAX.
• There was concern over Jacksonville’s St. Johns River, which could be overwhelmed by water pushed into it by the storm. The hurricane center said a tide gauge reported storm surge of 4.28 feet.
Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina
• Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered evacuations for all counties east of Interstate 95. Deal has activated 2,000 National Guard troops.
• Glynn County officials wrote on Facebook that “Conditions have deteriorated to a point that persons remaining in (the area near Brunswick) are advised to shelter in place for the remainder of the storm.”
• Maj. Tommy Tillman of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office said the road to Tybee Island is closed.
• In Savannah, Mayor Eddie DeLoach warned those who stay that they’d be on their own.
• Chatham County suspended its emergency medical response until further notice. It also remains under a curfew.
• Four counties and one city in South Carolina will be under nighttime curfews until further notice, said state Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker. Dorchester, Beaufort, Jasper and Williamsburg counties will be under curfew. Charleston’s curfew starts at midnight. The curfews end each morning, at different times.
• Gov. Nikki Haley warned residents who didn’t evacuate to go to a shelter. A major storm surge of 8 feet or more is approaching low-lying areas in the state, including Charleston.
• Although 310,000 people have evacuated the area, Haley said that’s not enough. Officials in some areas are going door-to-door, urging people to leave. Police in Pawleys Island asked residents who decided to stay in spite of the evacuation orders to sign a waiver and list their next of kin, according to WBTW.
• Gov. Pat McCrory said the forecast had changed, to North Carolina’s detriment. “What we feared is now happening in North Carolina. The (hurricane forecast) model has changed dramatically,” he said. “The immediate concern is life-threatening rain and water (from storm surge).”
• Officials are concerned that areas — such as Fayetteville, home to the Army’s Fort Bragg — that were recently flooded will see more rain from Matthew.