Hurricane Matthew killed more than 800 people and left tens of thousands homeless in its rampage through Haiti earlier this week before it lashed Florida on Friday with howling winds and churned northward up the US Atlantic coast.
Matthew triggered mass evacuations along the USA coast from Florida through Georgia and into SC and North Carolina.
Even though Matthew eventually made landfall in SC as a minimal hurricane Saturday, the path it took in the days before was a stroke of luck for the United States that meteorologists will spend years trying to understand and explain.
High tide later Saturday could push water "well into the city", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. A 4.73-foot storm surge measured in the St. Johns River at Mayport was the highest recorded in more than a century.
The storm could dump about eight to 12 inches of rain in the Carolinas, exacerbating the potential for floods.
As the death toll climbed, pledges of aid flooded in, with the United States announcing it was sending a Navy ship, the USS Mesa Verde, whose 300 Marines will add to the 250 personnel and nine helicopters already ordered to deploy to Haiti.
But one person was killed by a falling tree in Volusia County after venturing outside to feed animals during a lull in the storm, said James Dinneen, manager of the county that includes Daytona Beach. Fridnel Kedler, coordinator for the Civil Protection Agency in Grand-Anse, told The Associated Press that officials still haven't been able to reach two communities within that department three days after the hurricane hit.
While Matthew only brushed the northeastern coast of Florida, it left a big mark across the region.
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She eventually set her family's dwelling on fire, and is now confined to a medical ward in a Refugee Processing Center. One man told Amnesty that he had tried to kill himself twice in a 10-week period.
At least five deaths in Florida were attributed to the storm, which knocked out power to nearly 1.6 million households and businesses in the southeastern United States.
There wasn't much. Storm surge flowed across the road and drenched everything she owns in waist-deep salt water, washing away the stores of rice and sugar she sells at the market to support her family.
250: Miles of Matthew's diameter while off the east coast of Florida, which isn't a terribly large hurricane, but is roughly the distance across Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.
Hurricane Matthew is now a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds at 85 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds are moving onshore at Hilton Head and Pritchards Island, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center reports.
Haiti has borne the brunt of the storm with almost 30,000 homes destroyed and 150 lives lost in just one part of the country's southern peninsula.
Experts still do not fully understand why some five per cent of tropical storm suddenly accelerate and become hurricanes. Residents are asked to use extreme caution and heed the warning announcement from the Glynn County Government, to follow previously announced curfews and precautionary measures for safety measures. The curfews end each morning, at different times. A storm surge of 5 to 7 feet could significantly damage the coast. Authorities fear diseases such as cholera could cause more deaths in the area while the destruction of crops and livestock could cause many people to go hungry. Police in Pawleys Island asked residents who made a decision to stay in spite of the evacuation orders to sign a waiver and list their next of kin, according to CNN affiliate WBTW.
U.S. government agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sends hurricane hunters into stormy skies to assess weather conditions and update and warn the public accordingly. Winds and the threat of surges were expected to diminish through the day, National Weather Service forecaster James Carpenter said by telephone.