ST. AUGUSTINE, FL (CBS) — A weakening but still powerful Hurricane Matthew made landfall Saturday morning, with the eye of the storm coming ashore just southeast of the town of McClellanville, South Carolina, packing sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm, now a Category 1, continues to bring heavy rain and the threat of serious flooding after raking the coasts of Georgia and Florida.
Hurricane Matthew was being blamed for at least six deaths in the U.S., all in Florida.
At a briefing in Jacksonville Saturday morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott said about a million people in that state are still without electricity, though power has been restored to 725,000 homes.
“There’s a lot of flooding, a lot of downed trees, a lot of people without power,” Scott said. “This state’s a resilient place. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this state’s going to come back.”
“Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane while the center is near the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina,” the center said.
The hurricane was forecast by the hurricane center to approach North Carolina’s southern coast by Saturday night.
CBS Charleston affiliate WCSC reported, “The expected turn away from the coast has not occurred. A trough to the west of us to was expected to push Matthew to turn.”
The hurricane center said Matthew was “expected to produce total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches over the Atlantic coast of the United States from eastern Georgia into eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches.
This rainfall may result in life threatening flooding and flash flooding. Nearly 14 inches of rainfall has been measured thus far at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.”
More than 100,000 homes and businesses were in the dark early Saturday in coastal Georgia as gusty winds strengthened and rain grew more severe. Some 150,000 customers were without power in South Carolina and more than a million in Florida.
Some of Georgia’s resort islands were expected to take the brunt of Matthew’s storm surge, including St. Simons and Tybee.
On Tybee Island, where most of the 3,000 residents were evacuated, Jeff Dickey held out hope that the storm might shift and spare his home. But as the rain picked up, he decided staying wasn’t worth the risk.
“We kind of tried to wait to see if it will tilt more to the east,” Dickey said. “But it’s go time.”
Mayor Jason Buelterman personally called some of the holdouts, hoping to persuade them to move inland.
“This is what happens when you don’t have a hurricane for 100 years,” he said. “People get complacent.”
Matthew spared Florida’s most heavily populated stretch from a catastrophic blow Friday but threatened some of the South’s most historic and picturesque cities with ruinous flooding and wind damage as it pushed its way up the coastline.
Among the cities in the crosshairs were St. Augustine, Florida; Savannah and Charleston.