Hurricane Matthew moves into South Carolina; serious flooding threatened

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SOUTH CAROLINA -- Much of the Carolinas were enduring a day-long soaking Saturday after Hurricane Matthew made landfall, bringing life-threatening floods and dangerous waves to communities in the two states.

Matthew's center crossed near McClellanville, South Carolina, between Charleston and Myrtle Beach before 11 a.m. ET. It skirted the coast for hours before heading back out to sea, with maximum winds just above the hurricane threshold at 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm has killed hundreds in the Caribbean and at least four people in Florida, and left swaths of damage and hundreds of thousands of power outages along parts of the US Southeast from Florida to the Carolinas.

At least three people died in North Carolina, the governor said, and a man in Savannah, Georgia was found dead in his house Saturday after a tree fell on it, police said.

**For the Fox 8 Hurricane Matthew tracker, click here**

Though the storm has weakened and is expected to dissipate by Tuesday, serious threats remain: As much as 20 inches of rain are possible near and east of Interstate 95, the hurricane center said.

"Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain near hurricane strength while the center is near the coasts of North Carolina," the center said in its 5 p.m. advisory.

Forecasters predicted storm surges of 5 to 7 feet from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina.

"This has the potential for the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd," North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said during a Saturday news conference. Floyd, a Category 2 storm, hit North Carolina hard in 1999.

"It's not just about the beaches. It's (also) inland where we can have loss of life," he said.

Even though Matthew made its first US landfall Saturday morning, part of the storm's eyewall -- the hurricane's strongest section -- passed over parts of coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina from Friday into Saturday, helping to flood low-lying areas, down trees and make some roads impassable.

By the numbers

• The storm has killed hundreds in the Caribbean, almost entirely in Haiti. More than 330 people died in Haiti, according to a spokesman for Haiti's Civil Protection Service. Others report much higher deaths. A count by Reuters, based on information from local civil protection officials, puts the death toll in Haiti well over 800. Four deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

• At least four people died as a result of the storm in Florida, officials said.

• As of 5 p.m. ET, Matthew's center was 15 miles west-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 25 miles from that center. The storm was moving east-northeast at 13 mph as a Category 1 hurricane.

• More than 1.5 million utility customers were reported without power in Florida (870,000), Georgia (240,000) and South Carolina (437,000), officials said.

Flooding in Georgia, South Carolina

Flooding plagued near-coastal communities in Georgia and South Carolina on Friday night and Saturday. Flash flood warnings were issued in several locations across the states, including near the state line and the Summerville area near Charleston.

In the coastal Georgia city of Savannah, 85-year-old Sue Alice Walker was sleeping in her house when she awoke early Friday evening to find water -- eventually about 3 inches -- flowing inside.

"First I saw it in the living room, then in the kitchen, and then last it came in my son's room," she told CNN's Sara Ganim, adding that she spent the rest of the night and much of Saturday morning mopping and shoveling the water into buckets.

Storm surges sent water spilling into Myrtle Beach's streets early Saturday afternoon, before the storm's center arrived, video posted to social media by reporters with CNN affiliate WPDE showed.

Matthew left more than 100 roads impassable in the Charleston area Saturday morning, and damage assessments had yet to be completed in a large portion of the state, officials said.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who'd warned coastal residents to evacuate ahead of the storm, asked them to stay away a while longer Saturday morning.

"I'm going to ask for patience. ... Do not plan to go home," Haley said, asserting that driving conditions still weren't safe.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal had ordered evacuations for all counties east of Interstate 95. Deal activated 2,000 National Guard troops.

North Carolina braces for Matthew

McCrory, North Carolina's governor, warned people in his state to take the storm seriously.

"The immediate concern is life-threatening rain and water (from storm surge)," he said.

Officials said they are concerned that recently flooded areas -- such as Fayetteville, home to the Army's Fort Bragg -- will see more rain from Matthew.

One person died in car wreck in Sampson County, just east of Fayetteville, McCrory said, and two people died in a submerged vehicle in Bladen County.

Florida left drenched

Matthew battered the coast of east-central and northeastern Florida on Saturday, leaving four people dead and swaths of damage.

The dead included a woman in her 60s in Volusia County who was killed by a falling tree and an 82-year-old man and a woman in St. Lucie County, officials said. The latter two had medical emergencies and responders were unable to reach them in time because of hazardous weather.

A woman in northeast Florida died after a tree fell on her camper trailer, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said.

Water from the storm rushed through streets, making roadways look more like rivers, in parts of Jacksonville, Merritt Island, Fleming Island and other Florida communities.

Florida struggled with the rising water, rain and strong winds as meteorologists said the storm surge had been measured at more than 4 feet in some areas.

Jacksonville was not battered as heavily as initially feared. But several communities nearby received extensive damage with water surging down some streets, and massive trees toppled over.

Part of the Jacksonville Beach Pier washed away Friday morning, according to CNN affiliate WFOX/WJAX. The original pier was washed away during Hurricane Floyd rebuilt a few years later, the station said.