BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew in Georgia (all times local):
Georgia Power says about 220,000 homes and businesses on the coast were still without electricity as the southeastern region of the state continues to recover strong winds from Hurricane Matthew raked through the area.
The numbers offered by the utility company are steadily decreasing Saturday afternoon. Counties with most outages are Chatham, Glynn, Effingham and Bulloch.
A pattern of destruction was left in Georgia with beachfront condos weathering the storm without a broken window while falling trees about 70 miles from the coast.
The storm was unable to deliver the devastation local officials feared as it raked Georgia’s 100-mile coastline overnight Friday.
A third fatality related to harsh weather brought on by Hurricane Matthew has been reported in Georgia.
Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police said in a statement Saturday that they are investigating the death of a man at his home, possibly from structural damage caused by a fallen tree.
Two other deaths in Georgia occurred in Bulloch County. Three deaths have been reported in North Carolina, and four have occurred in Florida.
Those numbers pale in comparison to Haiti, which counted 470 dead in one district alone when Hurricane Matthew swept through the Caribbean island as a Category 4 storm. It has since weakened to a Category 1.
A deputy coroner confirms two dead in southeast Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Bulloch County deputy coroner Richard Pylant says Matthew Ward and James Altman died Saturday morning. Punishing winds and rains from the storm toppled trees and caused flooding in the area.
Pylant says the 28-year-old Ward died when his car slammed into a tree that fell across the roadway. The 68-year-old Altman was home alone and killed when he was struck in the head after two trees fell on his home.
Fallen trees and pools of water dotted Tybee Island along the Georgia coast after Hurricane Matthew battered the island.
Some homes suffered roof damage but otherwise appeared undamaged, even on the beach where windows without boards protecting them were unbroken.
“There’s a little bit of water on the floor but nothing bad,” said Debra Troop, a bartender who went to check on her workplace, Tybee Time Sports Bar, Saturday afternoon.
There was damage on the island. A car with a road sign on top of it. A fallen, twisted billboard by the road. A row of beachside rental condos with shingles and roofing torn off and shredded on the ground. A low-lying picnic area underwater behind City Hall.
“What I’m seeing is not nearly as bad as what I expected,” Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman said after getting an airborne view by helicopter. “I was thinking last night when I was watching the radar at 2 o’clock this morning this was going to be a Katrina type situation.”
The Coast Guard has rescued a man stranded on a sailboat in a river near Tybee Island in coastal Georgia.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release that a helicopter crew lowered a rescue swimmer who pulled the man up at 9:26 a.m. Saturday. The coast guard first learned of the man being stranded in Bull River late Friday.
The man airlifted by a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and taken to Hunter Army Air Field. His condition is unknown.
Initially, the coast guard was unable to pull the man up because of inclement weather and communicated with him hourly.
A Chatham County Emergency Management official says there are some reports of injuries in the Savannah area but no deaths.
Director Dennis Jones said Saturday the county has trees and powerlines down on numerous roads and extensive flooding.
Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman says he had received reports of some with roof damage on the island, but said people with low-lying homes got through without flooding.
“We are hoping the lower than expected surge may have spared the lives of many individuals,” Buelterman said.
County officials urged evacuees to stay away and to be patient. They gave no timetable for when residents will be able to return.
More than 280,000 homes and businesses still remain without power in coastal Georgia as state officials are focusing on restoring efforts after punishing winds and rains from Hurricane Matthew toppled trees and caused flooding.
Georgia Power emergency director Aaron Strickland says about 5,000 state agency and utility workers are entering the storm-struck counties Saturday, focusing their attention on reevaluating the area, restoring power and removing debris.
Gov. Nathan Deal reiterated at a news conference the importance of evacuees resisting the urge of returning to their homes after the storm passed. Chatham County experienced the most outages with more than 140,000. Other storm-struck counties include Glynn, Effingham, Bulloch and Liberty.
“I understand people are anxious to get back home. When they woke up this morning and the sun shining and the winds subsiding, the great temptation is to think that it’s safe to return home,” Deal said. “You will find out that’s not the case. We are still in a dangerous situation.”
Law enforcement were blocking exits off Interstate 95 north of Brunswick on Saturday morning, causing backups of about a dozen vehicles in some spots.
Streets in a residential neighborhood that includes houses built before the start of the 20th century is clogged with tree limbs, palm fronds and Spanish moss.
The sound of a grass blower broke the quiet on Union Street Saturday morning, as Eddie Mobley looked on.
Mobley rode out the storm in his house, feeling fairly confident the structure originally built in 1898 could withstand a storm. Mobley, who owns a general contracting business, said his crews boarded up about 20 homes before the storm and all have escaped without major damage. One house got some water in its basement on Friday afternoon as heavy rain and high tide affected the Brunswick area before Hurricane Matthew’s arrival.
The Brunswick native did decide to sleep downstairs, though, after hearing several tree limbs pop from lots behind his house.
“It was a lot of wind and rain,” he said. “But I didn’t even have a single shingle off when I came outside this morning.”
On other streets surrounding Mobley’s house, large tree limbs remained on the streets and some power lines sagged or had broken. Barricades have been placed in some spots to keep people and vehicles away from the lines.
Floodwaters several feet deep submerged a long stretch of President Street, which links downtown Savannah to the highway to Tybee Island.
Cassandra Coleman and her boyfriend were stopped in her car at the impasse Saturday morning when they saw a woman wading through floodwaters waters up to her neck.
“We thought she was going to fall. She kept staggering through,” Coleman said.
The shivering woman made it to the water’s edge. A bystander handed her a sheet, which she wrapped around her neck.
“I’m homeless,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Valerie. “I’ve got nine kids but I couldn’t evacuate with them.”
She said she weathered the storm under a tent near an overpass that crosses the low-lying road. But then floodwaters washed it away.
“It wiped out our tent, our tarp and washed away all our blankets and clothes,” she said.
She left with a bystander who offered to assist her in finding help.
Hurricane Matthew left Savannah’s downtown historic district littered with limbs and debris from the city’s picturesque canopy of trees.
Madison Square was strewn with a tangle of branches around its centerpiece monument to the Revolutionary War hero Sgt. William Jasper. The statue appeared undamaged early Saturday.
Though winds were still strong enough to cause an ominous rustling in the treetops, residents headed outdoors soon after dawn to walk their dawgs and gawk at the damage.
“We’re just assessing all the carnage,” said Frank Peeples, who lives about a block and a half from Madison square. He, his wife and their 6-year-old son marveled at a burly live oak in the square that completely toppled, pulling its roots from the ground along with bricks from the square’s walkway.
Peeples says his house lost electricity and had some water seep in through the edges of its 19th century window sashes, but otherwise was undamaged.
“I think we were really lucky,” he said
Some residents in Brunswick are waking up to some water covered roads blocked by fallen trees and downed power lines.
All access points to nearby St. Simons Island from the mainland also remained blocked on Saturday morning.
An online map from Glynn County shows dozens of damage reports across the city, but the extent of each report is unclear. The map says no reports are available from St. Simons Island.
Officials in far southeastern Camden County on Georgia’s coast weren’t immediately available Saturday morning.
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s Southeast region is asking people to stay off the roads as power companies work on fallen power lines and DOT staff inspect bridges, assess roads and remove debris.
Early morning winds have calmed in parts of Brunswick. Overcast filled the skies and some light rain fell.
Tidal waters swollen by storm surge from Hurricane Matthew have set a new record off the Georgia coast.
Chatham County officials said in a news release that a tidal gauge at Tybee Island measured 12.5 feet of water at high tide early Saturday as the storm churned just offshore. That broke a previous record of 12.2 feet set when Hurricane David came ashore in 1979.
Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman said that’s about 4.5 feet higher than a normal high tide — a substantial storm surge, but about half the amount officials had feared.
The island of 3,000 residents was evacuated ahead of the storm, and all emergency responders left as well. Buelterman said he did not have any early assessments of flooding or damage.
Nearly 270,000 customers are without power in coastal Georgia where strong winds from Hurricane Matthew struck the area.
Georgia Power officials say Chatham County experienced the most outages with more than 141,312 early Saturday. Other counties in the storm-struck area include Glynn, Effingham, Bulloch and Liberty.
Spokesman John Kraft says utility company crewmembers are expected to head toward the storm-inflicted areas Saturday after the weather clears.
Powerful winds from Hurricane Matthew are still hitting downtown Savannah.
The storm was were bending treetops at dawn Monday in Savannah’s downtown historic district, where shattered limbs from burly live oak trees littered East Bay Street near the city’s riverfront. Strong winds were still being felt after the center of the storm has passed Georgia was hugging the coast of South Carolina.
Jennifer Burns, a spokeswoman for the Chatham County Emergency Management Agency, said an estimated 132,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Savannah and the surrounding county. She said rainfall in the county exceeded 9 inches.
Though the storm’s center stayed offshore, Matthew was the most powerful storm to hit the 100-mile Georgia coast since Hurricane David in 1979.
Portions of Interstate 95 near the Georgia coast are blocked by flooding and debris from Hurricane Matthew.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said Saturday morning two exits along I-95 were closed because of excessive water on the roadway in Liberty County, about 30 miles southwest of Savannah.
The state DOT said in a news release that fallen trees and power lines were blocking I-95 at the Georgia-South Carolina state line and had shut down U.S. 80, the highway that links Tybee Island to the mainland.
The center of Matthew was 20 miles east of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, before dawn Saturday. But powerful winds were still hammering Georgia. The National Hurricane Center said wind gusts on Tybee Island were reaching up to 93 mph.
Gov. Nathan Deal has called up an additional 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to assist state and local authorities with the emergency response to Hurricane Matthew.
This doubles the number of activated state national guard troops to 2,000, Deal announced via his official Twitter account.
A weakening, but still powerful Matthew continues to move north off the Georgia coast near Savannah and its center is forecast to move near or over the South Carolina coast Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center reports.