A Look Back: Matthew brings flood waters, devastation

A Look Back: Matthew brings flood waters, devastation

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – For most along the Grand Strand and in the Pee Dee, Hurricane Matthew will certainly be one thing that sticks out when reflecting on 2016.

The storm made landfall near McClellanville at 11 a.m., on Oct. 8. From there, the center of Matthew passed directly over Myrtle Beach. However, its impacts were far reaching and continue to be felt.

Matthew was the final and strongest blow in what was a very active hurricane season. Of the 15 named storms that formed in 2016, five of them impacted the local region.

Hurricane Bonnie drifted through the coastal Carolinas in early June, bringing two to four inches of rain. Tropical Storm Colin quickly passed just off shore a few days later with another round of heavy rain.

In early September, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in northern Florida before racing up the coast as a tropical storm. Rain totals of five to 10 inches fell across much of the area, with wind gusts surging to tropical storm force.

Tropical Storm Matthew meandered just off shore of the Carolinas in middle September. Then, it was time for Matthew.

On Sept. 28, Matthew formed as a tropical storm as it entered the Caribbean. Even from that early stage, it was apparent the storm may pose a threat to the Carolinas.

Matthew became a hurricane just a day later on Sept. 29. It then rapidly became a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean the next day.

At its peak intensity, Matthew's winds reached 160 mph.
On Oct. 4, Matthew delivered a devastating blow to parts of Haiti. By that time, it became clear the southeastern United States would have to deal with the storm. What was unclear at that time was just how severe it would be.

On Oct. 5, Matthew's winds were at 120 mph. The threat level in the Carolinas rose quickly. The storm was expected to pass offshore, but still bring a hit from wind and rain.

"This is the last time you will see me before we are actually in storm mode, so please evacuate," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said at the time.

On Oct. 6, Matthew's winds increased to 140 mph near the Bahamas. Evacuation orders went into effect for the Grand Strand for the first time since 2004.

It was the first time the area used the newly implemented zone procedures for evacuations, a process that went relatively smoothly.

On Oct. 7, Matthew brushed the Florida coast, with the state narrowly escaping a direct hit. The latest track suggested a very close pass to the Grand Strand. The threat of inland flooding started to become very serious.

At 11 p.m., on Oct. 7, WMBF News went on the air to track Matthew, and stayed on for the next 21 hours straight.

On Oct. 8, Matthew moved in. Tropical storm-force winds arrived on the coast before sunrise and a tornado touched down in North Myrtle Beach.

Flash flooding developed through the morning as torrential rains fall across the entire region. At 11 a.m., the eye of Matthew wobbles onshore near McClellanville. Shortly after 12 p.m., the National Weather Service in Wilmington issued its first-ever flash flood emergency for Horry County as flooding became widespread and life-threatening.

Flood waters claimed the lives of two in Florence County and another in Dillon County. The center of Matthew made its way up the coast and passed directly over Myrtle Beach at 2 p.m. The highest storm surge since Hurricane Hugo roared ashore, demolishing dunes and the Springmaid and Surfside Beach piers.

Then the winds came.

As the storm pulled away, hurricane-force wind gusts hit the Grand Strand. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph blew through the Pee Dee. Trees came down, the power went out and at the end of the day, 834,000 people were in the dark.

On Oct. 9, a region was in shock and going underwater. The Lumber and Waccamaw rivers were quickly overwhelmed by Matthew's rains and started to rise.

Nichols, Latta, Mullins and Lumberton quickly headed into a flooding disaster.

On Oct. 10, the Lumber River shattered the old flood height by five feet. Interstate 95 was shut down and some residents were rescued from their rooftops. Residents of Nichols were stunned by how fast the water comes up as the entire town is engulfed.

The flood disaster continues along the Lumber River on Oct. 11, while the Waccamaw started to rise.

For the next eight days, the slow motion flood disaster spread downstream, swallowing homes, roads and neighborhoods.

On Oct. 17, more than a week after Matthew, the Waccamaw River climbed to the highest level ever reported. From Conway to Socastee, areas that have never seen flood waters were submerged. It would take another two full weeks for the river to fall back within its banks.

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