Hurricane Matthew Weakens To Category 1 Storm; Batters NC, SC Coastlines

Oak Island Pier Collapse

Hurricane Matthew continues to threaten the Southeast coast Saturday, bringing its ferocious storm surges and powerful rainfall through the region.

Matthew — downgraded to a Category 1 storm — still maintained threatening power, with maximum sustained winds reaching 85 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an 8 a.m. advisory Saturday.

The National Guard deployed 11 troops to Brunswick County, where storm surging and flooding have been an issue. 

Saturday morning, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory warned residents that even though Matthew's winds have downgraded, the storm is still a danger because of flooding and storm surge. He says Matthew could cause some of the worst flooding in NC since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which dumped 19 inches of rain in Wilmington and destroyed the town of Princeville.

Southeastern NC could see as much as 10-15 inches of rain as Matthew tracks back out into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Here's What We Know: Hurricane Matthew's Impact On The Coast

As of 5 a.m. ET, Matthew was located 20 miles southeast of Hilton Head Island, S.C., moving at 12 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its advisory. The storm is expected to move into South Carolina and reach southern North Carolina by night.

PHOTOS: Sights From NC Coast As Matthew Nears

"There is nothing safe about what is getting ready to happen," South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said Friday. "This is the last time you will hear my voice when I am asking you to evacuate. We need everybody to consider evacuating and take this very seriously."

At least four people died in Florida and over 1.1 million people were without power. An elderly St. Lucie County couple died from carbon monoxide fumes while running a generator in their garage and two women were killed in separate events when trees fell on a home and a camper.

As of 6 a.m. Saturday, more than 125,000 power outages have been reported by utilities operating in the Low Country as a result of Hurricane Matthew. South Carolina Electric & Gas Company reported a total of 105,404 outages statewide, while South Carolina's Berkeley County Electric Cooperative reported 20,114.

People in coastal areas should stay off the roads because “they will die,” warned Tom Johnson, emergency manager for the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

“We are not anticipating going out and clearing any roadways or anything of that matter until at least Sunday morning,” Johnson said.

Charleston's police chief announced a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew for Friday to protect the public from the high tide expected at 1 a.m. “We do not want to deal with individuals who get themselves trapped out in this severe situation,” Chief Greg Mullen said.

Of the 500,000 people instructed to leave low-lying coastal areas, Haley said that more than 300,000 people had pulled out. Many of those who didn't, she said, were on Daniel Island, a 4,000-acre area on the east bank of the Cooper River in Charleston.

At least 18 roads in the city of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., are impassable, officials say, as the western eyewall of Hurricane Matthew moved along the lower South Carolina coast at 5 a.m. ET Saturday. Charleston County authorities reported trees and power lines down throughout the county as 1,538 people waited out the storm in shelters.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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