Report: Hurricane Matthew was the tenth most destructive cyclone in U.S. history

April 5, 2017 GMT

Hurricane Matthew was the 10th most destructive cyclone in history in the United States and the deadliest in the Atlantic Basin since 2005, federal researchers said Tuesday.

The October hurricane tore up the Southeast coast, killed 34 people and spawned more than $10 billion in damage to the United States alone, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday in its final report.

The official toll in South Carolina was four deaths; the report did not breakdown costs by state. Some damage estimates here have topped $100 million, as both Hilton Head Island and Edisto Beach took hard hits.


Among the dead in South Carolina were two females in Florence County whose car was swept away by floodwaters, a 40-year-old male in Marion County near Myrtle Beach who drowned in a flooded home and a 66-year-old male in Richland County near Columbia who was found pinned face down in floodwaters outside his home, the report said.

Other reports have included a fifth death: a 70-year-old man in Dillon County near Marion who was struck by a cable while cleaning up storm debris.

“The combination of strong wind gusts and freshwater floods downed tree and power lines more than 50 nautical miles (nearly 60 miles) inland from the coast, forcing the closure of many roads. In the town of Nichols in Marion County, more than 100 people spent the night on the third floor of the town hall due to rising floodwaters,” the center report said.

“However the bulk of the damage associated with Matthew occurred in counties of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown and Horry,” it said.

Hurricane Matthew rose to deadly Category 5 strength in the Caribbean Sea in late September, wracked Haiti, then crawled just offshore up the Southeast coast from Florida to North Carolina in early October, making a temporary landfall near McClellanville.

The storm brought hurricane-force winds along portions of the Southeast coast and storm tide higher than 9 feet in places. More than half the dunes bolstering the South Carolina coast were overwashed, a U.S. Geological Survey aerial study has concluded.

Across both the Southeast coast and Caribbean islands, the hurricane killed 585 people, mostly in Haiti. That made it the deadliest since 2005, when Hurricane Stan was responsible for as many as 2,000 “direct deaths” in Central America. As a comparison, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 killed 50 people, according to federal reports.

The deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history is generally thought to be the Great Galveston Hurricane in 1900, which killed an estimated 8,000 people.

With Matthew, the Southeast “was spared the full brunt of (the) strongest winds as the core of the powerful hurricane remained just offshore,” the report said.