Hurricane

What’s happening with Hurricane Matthew right now

Hurricane Hunters fly into the eye of the storm

A crew from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration provided a first-hand look into the eye of Hurricane Matthew with a video they shot on Friday, October 7, 2016.
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A crew from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration provided a first-hand look into the eye of Hurricane Matthew with a video they shot on Friday, October 7, 2016.

As Hurricane Matthew spins off the coast of Florida, here is the latest:

HURRICANE-RELATED DEATHS

Six people were killed in Florida as of Friday evening. Four of which were in St. Lucie county, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times.

St. Lucie county emergency responders received a call about an unconscious 82-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman suffering from a heart attack. Responders couldn’t reach the people at the time because the hurricane’s winds were too strong.

By the time the wind speeds reduced, the people had died.

A couple in their 90s, also in the same county, died Friday from carbon monoxide poisoning after running their generators inside the garage. They died in the hospital.

Volusia county officials said a DeLand woman died from a fallen tree while feeding her pets outside.

In Putnam County, another woman died when a tree fell on her camper.

--CRESONIA HSIEH

PARTS FLAGLER COUNTY’s A1A WASHED AWAY

6:25 p.m.: In St. Augustine’s historic downtown, several streets were flooded as rising water swallowed vehicles and climbed the steps to hotel entrances. Sections of A1A along Flagler Beach washed away.

-- KRISTEN M. CLARK, MARY ELLEN KLAS AND JENNY STALETOVICH

BREVARD COUNTY MOSTLY SPARED

5:30 p.m.: When authorities, after they inspected the causeways, finally allowed people to return across to Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral, they found neighborhoods that were mostly unscathed.

Down A1A in Cape Canaveral, marinas, car dealerships, T-shirt shops and a couple mini-golf courses were all deserted - but undamaged by winds. Police, however, had blocked off access to Cocoa Beach Pier area because of a gas leak, one neighbor said.

At Merritt Island, electricity had already been restored to many homes. Fences and tree limbs littered the streets, but no homes were destroyed - save for a rusty old barn structure on a rural strip of the island.

Tony Price, 59, and his 5-year-old son Jadin rode out the storm in their home on North Banana Drive on Merritt Island. The power went off early in the night amid the shrieking winds. They watched a small battery powered TV and ate Spam and peanut-butter sandwiches. "Old favorites," Price said, grinning, as he and his son collected shreds of wood from their fence that crumpled.

The fence and a tin shed were the only casualties. He figured it would cost him about $5,000 to repair all the damages. "We were expecting a lot more, especially because on the news, they kept saying it would be a category 4 or 5," Price said, motioning to his son. "This one slept right through it."

Down the street, Jim Kemp, 75, a resident of the island for more than four decades, was patching up a small tear in his roof. The only other damages: tree limbs, a half-or-dozen that plopped onto the lawn.

"I stayed with my daughter, son-in-law and two cats and a dog," Kemp said. "We stayed up all night on the covered porch watching the wind."

-- DAVID OVALLE

8:45 p.m.:

Cocoa Beach residents may now return to their homes, but a power outage caused Friday by Hurricane Matthew has stalled the city’s sewage system, prompting a request to citizens to refrain from using toilets, showering, washing laundry or doing dishes.

If the plant is overwhelmed before the plant is operational, thousands of gallons of raw sewage would need to be diverted into the Banana River, the city said.

-- CRESONIA HSIEH

LAKE OCKEECHOBEE LEVELS

5:00 p.m.: Although Lake Okeechobee is expected to reach the highest water level in 10 years as a result of Hurricane Matthew, the lower than expected rainfall in South Florida led to stable conditions for the region's flood control system and the Herbert Hoover Dike, state and federal water managers said in separate reports on Friday.

Water levels in Lake Okeechobee continue to rise because of the storm, said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps Jacksonville district commander, but initial assessments of the impact from the storm "indicate that the dike has weathered the storm well."

Water managers estimate that the lake levels will rise to a stage of 16.5 feet. As a result, the corps has resumed discharges from the lake after suspending them during the storm, the corps said in a press release.

"Water managers will closely monitor basin conditions and adjust flows as needed to reduce the risk of flooding downstream from Lake Okeechobee,'' the corps said.

Meanwhile, officials at the South Florida Water Management District reported that rainfall from the storm was heaviest in St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach counties.

But the total to that region -- between two to four inches -- was much less than the eight to 10 inches expected and "our flood control system was well prepared to accommodate the actual rainfall that the system did receive,'' said John Mitnik, the chief engineer for the South Florida Water Management District on Friday.

In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the rain from the storm "amounted to a typical wet season afternoon rainstorm,'' he said.

The district conducted a review of the flood control system and preliminary reports have not identified any significant damage or clogged water control structures, Mitnik said.

He added that the East Coast protective levies are performing well and water conservation areas are "well below stages that would be for this time of year."

-- MARY ELLEN KLAS

HURRICANE MATTHEW RELIEF FUND

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation established an emergency relief fund to assist those devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and other communities.

One hundred percent of all contributions to this fund will be used to help victims of Hurricane Matthew.

Those wishing to contribute to the relief fund with credit cards can do so online by visiting http://www.JewishMiami.org. Checks can also be mailed to Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33137. Please note “Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund” in the memo area of each check.

For more information about donating, call 305-576-4000.

-- CRESONIA HSIEH

Food For The Poor rushed to deliver nine 40-foot containers of aid by barge from its Haiti warehouse to Jeremie.

To donate money, call 1-800-427-9104 or visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/hurricane.

For those who prefer to donate goods, Food For The Poor is accepting canned meat, fish and milk at its Coconut Creek warehouse at 6401 Lyons Road.

The charity is not accepting clothing donations at this time.

MATTHEW HITS ST. AUGUSTINE

3 p.m. Hurricane Matthew is flexing its muscle in St. Augustine.

Several streets are flooded, with rising water slowly swallowing vehicles. Street signs are bent or blown away, trees are swaying, branches have snapped and howling winds are promising there's more to come.

— NANCY SAN MARTIN

FIRE-RESCUE READY

2:10 p.m. Fire rescue teams from Miami and Miami-Dade deployed during the storm and are now waiting on word from the state where to head as it barrels through northern Florida.

The 80-man team from Miami Fire Rescue is now staged in Fort Pierce, while the 80-person crew from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue are waiting for word in Palm Beach County.

Helping out in a storm is nothing new for the first responders, who have set off to help out on practically every storm since Hurricane Charley hit the west coast in 2004.

“We’re staged and waiting on info on where they want us to go,” said Miami Fire Capt. Pete Gomez

— CHUCK RABIN

NORTH OF DAYTONA

2:00 p.m. Hurricane Matthew’s strength could certainly be felt just north of Daytona.

The area was pounded by shears of blinding rain and winds strong enough to knock down several tall Florida pine trees along I-95.

More severe weather is expected further north near Jacksonville as Matthew continues its path along Florida’s coast, with wind gusts of as strong as 115 mph, local radio weather stations reported.

-- NANCY SAN MARTIN

SCHOOL BACK IN SESSION

1:50 p.m. Miami-Dade County Public Schools have all been inspected and are ready to open for classes on Monday. Saturday high school football games and adult education sessions will resume Saturday.

— ALEX HARRIS

3:20 p.m.: Broward County Public Schools will resume normal operation on Monday. However, all weekend school district events and activities — including field trips, clubs, athletic events and competitions — remain canceled.

-- CRESONIA HSIEH

UPDATE FROM EOC

1:30 p.m. There are more than 1.5 million Floridians still in evacuation zones, including the low-lying areas of Miami Dade and Broward counties and people living in mobile homes.

The storm ripped up power lines and shut off power to 826,920 customers in 25 counties. The bulk of the outages -- 614,000 -- are within Florida Power &Light’s territory and comprise 13 percent of the company’s 4.8 million customers.

Schools and government offices were closed in 45 counties and 30 colleges and universities from Miami-Dade College to Pasco-Hernando State college cancelled operations until further notice.

Eight hospitals have evacuated patients in the storm zone. DOH will be updating hospital evacuation information at FLHealth.gov Those with evacuations are:

▪ Baptist Medical Center Beaches, Jacksonville Beach

▪ Health First Cape Canaveral Hospital, Cocoa Beach

▪ Florida Hospital Oceanside, Ormond Beach

▪ Florida Hospital New Symrna, New Symrna Beach

▪ Baptist Medical Center Nassau, Fernandina Beach

▪ Wuesthoff Medical Center, Rockledge

▪ Florida Hospital Flagler, Bunnell

The Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a post-storm inspection of the Herbert Hoover Dike to monitor the lake level. The lake level is currently at 15.93 feet and emergency action will be considered if the level exceeds 17 feet.

    The corps has halted discharges to the east of the lake at this time and will resume them when it is no longer a flood threat.

    The state reports enough fuel on hand to last five days, even if any of the ports are closed.

    As of midnight, there were 145 shelters were housing 22,360 people in 33 counties. To find available shelters by county, visit http://www.floridadisaster.org/shelters/

    -- MARY ELLEN KLAS

    7:45 p.m.:

    Two elderly men in Miami died in separate storm prep accidents, according to the Emergency Operations Center.

    --MARY ELLEN KLAS

    8:00 p.m.:

    A section of A1A has been washed out in Flagler County. Many bridges are closed in Duval, Nassau, St. Johns and Indian River counties. Sixty-five state parks remain closed, although the number is diminishing.

    1.6 million meals are ready to be distributed over the next four days, along with a request to FEMA of baby food and supplies for 2,000 babies.

    Retails stores are saying the only reason they’re not opening is because they don't have power.

    EMS Chief Bryan Koon: “Tonight, the storm is still happening.”

    He warned EMS demands could be “worse than last night, because there’s water on top of the wind issues.”

    -- MARY ELLEN KLAS

    POWER REPORT

    6:30 a.m.: As Hurricane Matthew lashed across South Florida late Thursday and into Friday, more than 107,000 customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were left in the dark.

    But by 5 a.m. Friday, power was returning to many.

    The majority of those affected lived in Palm Beach County, where 52,500 Florida Power & Light customers were without power as of 5 a.m. Friday.

    In Broward County, 9,140 had lost power while another 8,040 were without electricity in Miami-Dade, the utility reported. All told, 69,680 FPL customers were without power in the three-county area Friday morning.

    The numbers of customers without power kept rising Thursday and early Friday — from about 12,000 in the late afternoon among the three counties to more than 107,000 at 3 a.m. Friday. At the same time, thousands of customers had their power restored throughout the night and into the morning.

    — NICHOLAS NEHAMAS

    12:45 p.m.: The Friday noon report from the state EOC indicates that there are 827,000 statewide without power. They still report only 1 percent in Duval (Jacksonville):

    ▪ Brevard: 61 percent without power

    ▪ Flagler: 69 percent

    ▪ Martin: 48 percent

    ▪ Putnam: 20 percent

    ▪ Seminole: 20 percent

    ▪ St. John’s: 33 percent

    ▪ St. Lucie: 34 percent

    ▪ Volusia: 78 percent

    — MARY ELLEN KLAS

    7:45 p.m.:

    Florida's power grid continued to become a casualty of Hurricane Matthew Friday as the number of utility customers without power rose to 1.1 million late Friday.

    Sustained winds of more than 60 mph toppled power lines, and water from the storm surge threatened transformers for all four electricity suppliers that service Florida's east coast.

    Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric company, was hit the hardest, reporting that 681,000 homes and businesses -- 14 percent of its 4.8 million customers -- were without power by 6 p.m. Friday.

    Jacksonville Electric Authority, the municipal power company that serves the territory facing major flooding Friday, reported 208,000 customers without power at 7 p.m. Friday. Duke Energy said 164,000 customers faced outages at the end of the day, and another 6,000 customers to cooperative electrics said power was down.

    --MARY ELLEN KLAS

    FROM THE HURRICANE ZONE

    12:15 p.m.: Jim Davis already lost a home once from a major hurricane, and now he fears Matthew might devastate another.

    Eleven years ago, Davis was living in Slidell, Louisiana, off Lake Pontchartrain, when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast.

    “We lost everything there already,” said Davis, who now lives in Jacksonville Beach. “The water came in the house 16 feet high, and I was nine feet out of the canal, so the total water rise in Louisiana was insane. ... We had nothing left. We started all over again.”

    “Now we’re over in this house that we just renovated, and it’s like, ‘Ay, you’ve got to be kidding me,’ “ he said, as Hurricane Matthew crept north along Florida’s east coast around midday Friday.

    With storm surge predictions of between 7-11 feet along the central and north Florida coastline, Davis said he’s worried he’ll get several feet of water in his home because of Matthew.

    Davis and his family, which includes a 5-month-old baby, evacuated their home Thursday night and took refuge at a hotel several miles inland south of Jacksonville.

    Although their home was in a mandatory evacuation area, Davis said they had considered staying and waiting out the storm.

    “We’d been through several, and most of the (Category) 3’s, we’d sit through and not have any issue,” Davis said. “Normally, we’d have a nice hurricane party and hang out, but this time, when they said they expect the ocean to meet the Intracoastal, it was like, ‘All right, I guess we gotta go.’”

    IN JACKSONVILLE

    Noon: Strong wind gusts and rain from Matthew could be felt along Interstate 10 on Friday morning at least as far west as Lake City. Westbound traffic was minimal and eastbound traffic was even more scarce, especially near and in Duval County.

    In Jacksonville, intense squalls just before 11 a.m. — featuring low clouds, dense fog, high winds and thick sheets of rain — made for treacherous driving conditions on the eastbound I-295 Beltway between I-10 and I-95, especially across the St. Johns River.

    With Matthew still about 90 miles away, the river appeared to be swelling already. At points, waves rocked just a few feet below the Henry H. Buckman Bridge.

    Three Florida Highway Patrol vehicles were stationed on each side of the bridge. As of 10:50 a.m., it remained open to traffic.

    7:45 p.m.: The first coast, as Jacksonville calls itself, is also the last stop in Florida for Hurricane Matthew. It's a very big target, too: With 840 square miles, Jacksonville is the biggest city by land mass in the U.S. (Jacksonville and Duval County are one and the same, the only consolidated city-county government in the state).

    It's also a city bisected by the St. Johns River and by a series of bridges over the Intracoastal Waterway, making high winds and heavy rains even more perilous. City officials reminded everyone to stay put as the storm's eyewall ventured northward.

    "Hunker down and stay safe," Mayor Lenny Curry said Friday as he reassured the city's nearly 1 million residents that cleanup efforts will begin as soon as possible Saturday -- as soon as the storm passes. "We are prepared for the back end of this," Curry said.

    FullSizeRender_5__8col

    City officials announced the first positive news in days as the National Weather Service said Matthew has been downgraded from a Category 4 to a "high end Category 2, Category 3" storm with a drop in predicted peak winds in northeast Florida later Friday of 60 to 80 mph and gusts of up to 90 mph.

    NWS meteorologist Angie Enyedi said that's still serious enough to produce fallen trees, power outages, structural damage and flooding in low-lying areas, like the upscale San Marco community just south of downtown. The potential threat of life-threatening storm surge on the coastline also persists, she said.

    In a Times/Herald interview at the city's downtown emergency operations center, Curry, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said he will be greatly relieved if the storm's impact turns out to be less than severe than predicted.

    "I've been running on adrenaline, as have many people," said Curry, who added that he makes no apologies for his dire warnings of Matthew's force and his insistence on a large-scale evacuation. "Anybody who wants to criticize me for taking it seriously, I'll take those slings and arrows all day long."

    Gov. Rick Scott is expected to visit Jacksonville as early as Saturday to monitor the work of utility crews working to restore power. And as luck would have it, this is a bye week for the hometown NFL Jaguars.

    -- STEVE BOUSQUET

    ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD

    11:55 p.m.: The state has notified the presidents of both Florida State University and the University of Miami that the Florida Highway Patrol will not provide the traditional escorts for the football game this weekend.

    “All state law enforcement will be doing hurricane response and recovery,’’ said Jackie Schutz, Scott’s communications director.

    She said that the schools make the decision about whether or not to cancel the game and the state would not be providing comment.

    However, the governor has urged people to avoid driving through areas still under evacuation and FSU has issued a warning to students and fans not to travel.

    “People need to be careful,’’ Schutz said. “There’s still a major Category 3 strom going up the coast.”

    After days of waiting for the impact of Hurricane Matthew, a couple ventures out to Fort Lauderdale Beach to take a swim after the threat of the storm was down graded in the late afternoon, October 6, 2016.

    IN THE HOSPITALS

    10:45 a.m.: At Florida Hospital Flagler, about 20 miles north of Daytona Beach, a skeleton crew of physicians, nurses and staff locked the doors on Friday morning while they ride out Hurricane Matthew.

    “Matthew is just approaching Daytona right now, so we’re in the midst of it,” said John Subers, a public information officer inside the hospital who said he was following Matthew’s progress on the Weather Channel’s website.

    Hospital staff had evacuated 110 patients to other medical centers beginning on Tuesday, Subers said. Only one patient, who required emergency medical care, remained at the hospital.

    Early Friday, when sustained winds reached 45 mph, county officials grounded ambulances and other emergency responders.

    “We’re somewhat in lockdown,” Subers said. “We’re certainly not allowed outside the bulding and nobody is allowed in.”

    Florida Hospital is the only hospital in Flagler County, he said, though it’s part of a larger system of medical centers throughout Central Florida. Patients were evacuated to sister facilities in Orlando and Winter Garden, and to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

    Subers said he expected Florida Hospital Flagler to begin returning to normal operations late Friday after Matthew had passed and emergency responders have returned to the roads.

    “As soon as the weather cleras,” he said, “more staff will start coming in to get ready for our build up, which we expect.”

    WITH THE GOVERNOR

    10:15 a.m.: With Hurricane Matthew continuing its approach up the coast, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that the eyewall remained 20 miles east of Cape Canaveral and warned North Florida to remain vigilant.

    “This is still a 120 mph storm. While the eye has not made direct landfall, it still has time to make a direct hit,’’ he said at the first public briefing of the day as the storm continued to pummel the northern half of the state.

    He said an estimated 600,000 Floridians are without power and the major concern remains in the low-lying areas of Duval and Nassau Counties where there is potential for a 10-foot storm surge that could do lead to major flooding, into downtown Jacksonvillle.

    Scott said that Florida Fish and Wildlife, the National Guard and local authorities in South Florida are doing initial assessments and there have been no reports of fatalities and all major roads have been cleared. Tolls remain suspended and there were no major damage or hazards.

    In an email Friday morning, Miami Dade Expressway authority Executive Director Javier Rodriguez asked the state for permission to “resume toll collections today at 11 a.m.” because the county had been cleared of all weather-related warnings.

    But Scott said he rejected the request and told them he will not resume tolls until 24 hours after the storm passes each county. The Florida Department of Transportation will make the decision on a county-by-county basis.

    Scott conceded that having the eye remain east of the coast was good but he reminded Floridians “we’re not out of it yet.”

    “There’s no victory lap here. The victory is when the storm leaves our state,’’ he said. “We could still have a direct hit but, for the southern part of the state where it stayed off shore that’s been a positive.”

    Half of the residents in Martin County remain without power; one-third of those in St. Lucie County and FPL has restored 27 percent of initial outages with about 500,000 homes left without power.

    “But look, we’re only halfway through, there will be more outages,’’ he said.

    The state has more than 145 shelters open with more than 22,000 people in the shelters. He declared the evacuation effort a success.

    He said the South Florida Water Management District was “still holding water” to keep water levels down in Lake Okeechobee.

    Asked why he would refrain from extending the deadline on voter registration and face criticism that he has politicized the storm, Scott said he has not changed his mind.

    “I’m focused on the storm and every life,’’ he said.

    Leo Lachat, head of the state’s Bureau of Response, told emergency managers at a briefing Friday morning that the state now has two missions: above Brevard County the priority is”protecting Northeast Florida as the storm continues on” and below the Space Coast, teams are doing reconnaissance to determine where they can move in to employ recovery teams.

    — MARY ELLEN KLAS

    7:30 p.m.:

    As the eye of Hurricane Matthew bore into Jacksonville Beach Friday at 6 p.m., Gov. Rick Scott spoke to emergency managers in Volusia County and repeated a refrain: "unfortunately, it's going to continue throughout the night."

    With flash floods swamping the Old City of St. Augustine, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issuing an expanded evacuation order, the governor's sober warnings continued.

    “We are very concerned about storm surge and there is potential for significant flooding in Jacksonville today,'' he said. "Flooding in this area could potentially last for days, and river flooding could last even longer."

    State officials said that the coastal Northeast was expected to get hammered with nine feet of water. The region has already seen more than six inches of rain and another three or four inches is expected.

    The National Weather Service has told state officials the storm will leave Florida about 2 a.m. Saturday but to expect it back as a tropical depression over the Bahamas Sunday night.

    Scott said the immediate concern was for Jacksonville, but he offered few details.

    He said that water managers were working to get pumps into the city to help to push water out once the storm leaves.

    "However, it's very difficult to do anything right now while we're still seeing the impacts of the storm,'' he said.

    All bridges in St. Johns County remain closed because of high winds.

    The governor said damage assessments are happening in South Florida and Central Florida and will continue into the weekend.

    The Florida Department of Transportation is working with local officials to expedite bridge assessments and give approval to reopen bridges, "so people can get back to their communities," Scott said.

    Scott said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is conducting search-and-rescue operations.

    "They've not reported any issues yet," he said.

    The state opened more than 180 shelters that house about 23,000 people.

    -- MARY ELLEN KLAS

    DEVELOPMENTS AT A GLANCE

    9 a.m.:

    ▪  The hurricane is just a few miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, where wind speeds could top 120 mph. The storm has caused massive damage, flooding and dangerous storm surge. Hurricane warnings are in effect from Sebastian Inlet to South Santee River in Northeast Florida.

    ▪  Thousands of people on Florida’s Space Coast are under mandatory evacuation orders, water service has been suspended on barrier islands and more than 300,000 people are without power.

    ▪  As of 8 a.m., 16,700 people were without power in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

    ▪  Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport reopened 5 a.m. Friday. Storm warnings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been lifted.

    ▪  Limited flights have resumed at Miami International Airport, with 144 arrivals and 161 departures canceled for Friday.

    ▪  Schools remain closed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties Friday.

    “Matthew is still moving northward up the coast toward Jacksonville. The eyewall is just miles off the coast causing very high winds,’’ said James Thomas of the National Weather Service.

    ON THE TREASURE COAST

    8:05 a.m.: As daylight broke in Fort Pierce, wind gusts were registering at just under 40 mph but there was no rain even as clouds threatened more downpours.

    Some billboards were damaged, a few tree branches littered the road and a number of smaller trees were uprooted or bent.

    But homes and buildings throughout the city, in the downtown district and along the Intracoastal seemed largely unscathed.

    As some residents began to exit their homes to assess the damage, they breathed a huge sigh of relief.

    “It was just loud last night,” said Crystal Smith, 32, who sought shelter at a relative’s home rather than staying at her mobile home. “I definitely thought we were going to get more. But I’m happy with the way it is. It could have been really bad.”

    Daniela Mendoza and her mother Marisela Carrera chuckled as they picked up small branches from their littered yard.

    “The light went out at about 3:15 a.m. and there was a lot of wind but that’s about it,” said Mendoza.

    “Compared to what they were telling us, this is great,” she said. “My brother is in Miami and he wanted us to come there.

    “Everyone was saying that we were going to die, that her kids were going to die,” Mendoza said with a laugh, pointing to her mother. “But we’re ok. We’re still alive! Everything is all good.”

    By 9 a.m., the beach area in Ft. Pierce reopened to residents who had been under mandatory evacuation.

    The ocean was a bit choppy, wind gusts were still fairly strong and there was intermittent rain. Some home fences were damaged and a few trees were uprooted but there was no obvious beach erosion and there was little visible damage to waterfront homes.

    “We were very fortunate,” said a Ft. Pierce police officer. “I mean, we went through Frances and Jeanne in 04 and people were in the street, crying, because they had lost everything.”

    -- NANCY SAN MARTIN

    IN SOUTH BEACH

    7:30 a.m.: Friday at dawn found few Matthew effects.

    Sand bags by store doors remained dry. The normal man made lights preceded the sun. Cars rolled briskly up and down Alton Road past the usual open establishments.

    Thursday night’s winds blew strong enough to put difficulty into opening some high rise balcony doors, but not strong enough to harm the spider web connecting a 17th Street sign with some tree branches hanging over a sidewalk.

    Other than more leaves and branches in the streets and no cafe tables on the sidewalks, little appeared different in South Beach from any morning earlier this week.

    -- DAVID J. NEAL

    IN PALM BEACH COUNTY

    7:05 a.m.: Juno Beach seems to have been largely spared from Matthew’s wrath.

    No obvious signs of destruction could be seen before sunrise, save for some Palm fronds scattered about.

    Electricity also was available throughout the night for most.

    Just a light rain continued throughout the morning and wind gusts died down.

    -- NANCY SAN MARTIN

    IN THE SHELTERS

    7 a.m.: More than 22,000 people in Florida are riding out the storm in 147 shelters in 33 counties. The numbers:

    Palm Beach County - 7,300

    Broward - 2,500

    Dade - 800

    Other big ones:

    Duval - 2,000

    Saint Lucie - 1,900

    Martin - 1,500

    Brevard - 1,400

    Indian River - 1,300

    _ KRISTEN M. CLARK

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