With cellphone networks down and roads flooded, aid has been slow to reach hard-hit areas in Haiti.
Matthew sideswiped Florida’s coast with winds of up to 120 miles per hour (195 kph) but did not make landfall in the state.
Two people were killed by falling trees and an elderly couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator while sheltering from the storm. One victim, a woman in her late 50s, died from cardiac arrest, according to St. Lucie fire department officials.
The Horry County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office said there were over 100 roads impassable throughout the county and pleaded with the public to stay off the roadways. It could make landfall near Charleston Saturday morning.
Three-quarters of a million people lost power in North Carolina, according to the governor, along with a similar number in SC, 250,000 in Georgia and about 1 million in Florida.
Earlier this week, the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, estimated that insurance claim payouts from damage caused by Hurricane Matthew would likely exceed $7.5 billion.
Parts of SC were flooded and three dams were breached, officials said Saturday afternoon. A virtual river of water rushed past a bed and breakfast business in the city about 35 miles southeast of Jacksonville, according to video posted by reporter Russell Colburn of CNN affiliate WJAX.
Matthew has been dumping rain on the coasts of SC and Georgia for more than 12 hours – and how risky the storm surge turns out to be will rely in part on what the tides are doing when the surge is highest.
Forecasters in Jacksonville had warned of a “worst-case storm surge scenario” and said “if a direct impact occurs, this will be unlike any hurricane in the modern era”.
Freda Pittman holds Mark Bergstresser’s hand and says, “God bless you” as Bergstresser ferries her from her flooded neighborhood to waiting friends on Hwy 211 in Lumberton, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. “It’s going to get a lot worse before it (has) a chance of getting better”.
Matthew crashed ashore on Haiti’s southern coast on Tuesday as a monster Category 4 storm, packing 145 mile (230 kilometer) winds.
Authorities say 43-year-old Boris Abbey was last seen Saturday afternoon, while 45-year-old Christy Woods hasn’t been seen since around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Nevertheless, the hurricane remains of grave concern. Anything over 3 feet in the city is life-threatening, Mayor Lenny Curry said.
“Very unsafe conditions, and it’s going to get worse into the afternoon”, Curry said.
A total of 1.1 million customers statewide were without power.
As of early Sunday afternoon, the AP reported, “The death toll in the USA climbed to at least 16, almost half of them in North Carolina”.
The powerful storm surged through the Caribbean earlier this week, at times as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, leaving a trail of destruction in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
After leaving at least 400 people dead when it hammered Haiti as a ruinous Category Four hurricane, a weaker but still potent Matthew claimed its first United States casualties Friday.
On Friday, its 115 miles per hour winds and 12 ft. storm surges left hundreds of thousands in the Sunshine State without power and killed at least six.
An official vehicle navigates debris as it passes along Highway A1A after it was partial washed away by Hurricane Matthew.
“This storm is a monster”, declared Florida’s Governor Rick Scott. In some of the counties that the storm has passed, it appeared that evacuations urged by local officials worked, he said.
“Trees are down in every neighbourhood on nearly every road”, he said, adding “I am no weather man, but would guess that the gusts of wind were near 160km, and with soggy ground a lot trees couldn’t stand up to it”.
The fearsome storm then sideswiped hundreds of kilometres of the U.S. coastline from Florida through Georgia and the Carolinas, its eye staying far enough offshore that the damage in many places was relatively modest, consisting mostly of flooded streets, flattened trees and blown-down signs and awnings.
The NHC said hurricane and tropical storm conditions were expected in Georgia and SC, but the bigger threat may be a storm surge of as much as nine feet (three metres) in places.