Hurricane Matthew ripped along the U.S. East Coast this weekend before veering out over the Atlantic Ocean just east of North Carolina. Although the hurricane took a turn, the storm's presence is still felt in the South where residents continue to seek shelter and safety.
In its latest update on Sunday, the Red Cross reported that over 13,400 people in the five states most affected by the storm found safety in emergency shelters. Matthew has caused 17 deaths: seven in North Carolina, four in Florida, three in Georgia and three in South Carolina. In Haiti, more than 330 people were killed by the storm.
As of Sunday, the Red Cross said, four people were missing in Cumberland County, N.C.
The hurricane has also led to the declaration of a state of emergency across the coast, as well as the closings of multiple public schools.
Megan Brewi, a junior at the University of South Carolina, returned to class Monday for the first time since Tuesday. "We didn't have school last Wednesday, Thursday or Friday because they used our buses – and buses from surrounding elementary schools, middle schools and high schools – to bus people from all the places that were getting hit," she said. "And they housed them in the schools.… I'm pretty sure in our basketball arena too."
The University of South Carolina served as one of the 61 hurricane shelters across the state, due to its inland location in Columbia. Brewi said the only trace of the storm was heavy rain and high winds, which were bad enough to force the university to postpone its Saturday football game until Sunday. Over the course of the storm, part of the university lost electricity but power was quickly restored. Overall, the school did not see any major damage. The same was not true for other parts of South Carolina, or for other Southern states.
"Charleston had some flooding, but nothing really happened to my parents' house. A couple of screens got ripped and a lot of trees fell…. It wasn't hit as bad as they thought it would be," Brewi said. "But Hilton Head got hit terribly. My friend has a house there and water was probably up to a street sign. It was so high."
The Red Cross said North Carolina had 80 evacuation shelters across the state, the most in the country. More than 4,000 people are still living in these North Carolina shelters until it is safe to return home.
The coast of Georgia also faced major flooding, specifically in Savannah and on Tybee Island. There were 34 shelters open throughout the state.
"I have a lot of friends that were going to go home or go to the coast of Georgia for fall break because break is this week. But they weren't able to on Friday because that's when it hit," Georgia Institute of Technology student Samantha Riemann said.
Although damages and injuries were in abundance on the coast, inland parts of the Southern states did not face any effects of the storm. Riemann said, "Atlanta was perfectly fine. It was sunny the whole weekend."
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has urged those on the coast to be patient and to wait to return home until the flooding has stopped. In the meantime, more than 2,700 Red Cross relief workers are providing victims with food, water and disaster support.