Journal Entry 10.8.2016 – Aftermath
We lost power at about 09:30 EDT on Friday and didn’t get it back until 05:30 EDT Saturday. While the storm howled around our heads, I listened to FM radio, with special weather updates and call-ins from listeners updating all of us shut-ins on the situation.
Matthew was officially a Category 3 hurricane as it passed by Flagler County, but the eye was offshore some 30 to 40 miles. As it was, damage was sustained along the coastal highway and beaches due to high surf. Flooding from storm surge is expected to continue well after the hurricane has moved off to the north where it is now crashing against the coastal islands of South and North Carolina. Rain and wind bands are extending far inland away from what remains of the eye. The hurricane is forecast to move off to the northeast, but flooding and damage will still occur due to heavily rain-soaked soils in the Carolinas.
I was quietly listening to the radio when I heard a loud thump in the backyard and looked out the Florida room windows to see that a large branch from a huge live sand oak had broken off and landed parallel to the house. Before the heavy wind gusts had moved off later that evening, three more branches joined it, so the backyard is full of oak, a job for a pro with a big chainsaw. The oak was the biggest tree in the immediate neighborhood (2 blocks) to fall, but many smaller trees and large limbs crashed down as well.
When I went outside this morning to take Toby the dog for a walk, there was a delicious scent of crushed pine in the air. And the sound of anxious birds calling probably due to losing their homes to the winds. While the storm was in full fury, the frogs were singing and croaking…the only ones to really enjoy the damp onslaught. There were fierce and continuous rains for over a 24 hour period due to the hurricane. It finally petered off about 18:00 hours EDT, or just before sunset.
It was fortunate that Matthew didn’t come ashore as the damage would have been far worst. As it was, at least four lives were lost and over 800 lost in Haiti, making it a deadly storm. The highest winds clocked in Flagler County were gusts up to 70 MPH, well under hurricane intensity as the eye of the storm was very compact as it traveled slowly up the coastline. Storm surges flooded downtown St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Most bridges going to the barrier islands were closed and probably just reopening this morning. Chunks of A1A, the coastal highway were taken out by the heavy surf in the town of Flagler Beach. Part of the Daytona Beach Shores pier was lost to the seas. There were reports of roofs collapsing, awnings, and bits and pieces blowing away in the stronger gusts. It could have been a lot worst had the cyclone come ashore. As one radio announcer said, “…we dodged a cannonball on this one!”
This was my first tropical cyclone but not my first windstorm, as they are very common in the Northwest especially in the autumn. I felt okay staying put in situ, staying at the house as driving on Wednesday and Thursday was chaotic with people evacuating from the islands and generally leaving the area. We came through, but clean-up, especially removing the fallen oak, will take some time as we’re not the only ones with storm cleanup.
Thank you for all the prayers and grid work done by numerous lightworkers and friends. And continue your vigils for those folks in South and North Carolina who are now being impacted by this huge storm.
Love and blessings,
Eliza Ayres, from Flagler County, Florida