Weakened Matthew Floods Charleston, Savannah

     
(CN) – A weakened Hurricane Matthew flooded downtown Charleston Saturday morning, covering many of its historic streets with more than a foot of water and knocking out power for about 165,000 people.
     The storm, now a Category 1 hurricane, is blamed for four deaths in Florida and all-told it has left more than 1 million without electricity in three states, while causing an as-yet unknown amount of property damage.
     Even before it hit the United States, Matthew killed well over 300 people in Haiti.
          If there was a saving grace to the hurricane’s march on Charleston, it was that the heart of the storm arrived at 4 a.m., shortly before low tide, and its path meant the city was on the west side of the eye meaning the most ferocious winds were over the ocean.
     Still, Matthew brought with it a near-historic 9-foot storm surge, something most current residents of coastal South Carolina had never seen before.
     The storm also thumped Savannah, Georgia Saturday morning, leaving 250,000 without power. Matthew was expected to near North Carolina’s southern coast by Saturday night.
     The fury of Matthew it once had winds topping 145 miles per hour threw officials along the coast into overdrive. The governors of Florida and North Carolina declared states of emergency nearly a week ago, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ordered a mandatory evacuation of the coast beginning on Wednesday.
          Ultimately, however, the worst fears of officials and millions of residents of the southeast were not realized as Matthew, in an almost freakish way, hugged the Gulf Stream something that kept it a major hurricane for much longer than if it had crossed over land, but also meant it merely brushed major population centers like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.
     In Florida, the storm gouged out several large sections of the coastal A1A highway north of Daytona Beach.
     The deaths in Florida included an elderly St. Lucie County couple who died from carbon monoxide fumes while running a generator in their garage and two women who were killed when trees fell on a home and a camper.
     Two other people died after suffering medical emergencies at a time when emergency responders could not reach them.
     Photo caption 1:
     An official vehicle navigates debris as it passes along Highway A1A after it was partial washed away by Hurricane Matthew, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in Flagler Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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