Jacksonville, Florida wasn’t hit directly by Hurricane Matthew . It did receive a lot of damage as the eye of the storm passed by on its way to the Carolinas. Along the way, it did quite a lot of damage as a Category 2 storm by causing storm surge along the coast. Even at its reduced strength and the center being forty miles off of the coast, I could still clearly see the damage these powerful storms can do.
Storm surge is the term for the flooding that comes with a hurricane. I relive the horrible view every time I got reminded of it. The pressure from the storm presses down on the ocean, causing the sea level to rise rapidly depending on the wind, the tide, and the shape of the coast. Even if the storm surge is just a few inches above high tide, the ocean can rise up to the edges of those beachside condos. The highest storm surge from Hurricane Matthew recorded was eight feet in Georgia. That is a huge amount of water. Jacksonville wasn’t spared from storm surge, as you can see from this video:
Coastal towns from Florida all the way up to Virginia were affected by Matthew, and they’ve all had to deal with storm surge in the past from hurricanes. But for people from Jacksonville like me this was the first time our town has been affected by this much in living memory.
Some of us faced much more damage than the others. Patrick Verwey and his family lost everything except what they could carry after being told they had five minutes to evacuate. They did manage to escape from the storm to a hotel, but then they got a call from their landlord the next day.
By the time the storm had passed, there was nothing left of their home. A few bags, some pillows and books, and two bearded dragons are all that remains. The family had hoped to make a new start in Jacksonville. Now they are trying to figure out how to get back to Pennsylvania.
They and hundreds of us gathered on Jacksonville Beach to survey the damage and to collect our memories. One local landmark was severely damaged by the storm.The Jacksonville Beach Pier used to stretch out a quarter of a mile out into the water. Roughly a quarter of it is now gone, including the concrete pylons, and the rest is heavily damaged. Many residents picked up pieces as memorabilia. It is unknown when that landmark will be rebuilt.
It’s not the first time the pier has been destroyed. Hurricane Floyd smashed it in 1999. The concrete pylons were meant to withstand another major hurricane, while the boards were meant to tear off but leave the frame behind. The boards worked as designed, but many of the pylons failed.
Couple of us were out on the beach with metal detectors to see what might be buried under the sand from the storm. Between the storm surge and the shifting sand, many things often get buried or carried out to sea after a hurricane. This brings out the treasure hunters.
Thankfully, most people in Florida survived the storm. There were only four official fatalities in Florida. But now we have to rebuild our lives and repair our flood damaged homes after the passing of Hurricane Matthew.
Michael Jacobs is the head of public relations department at ServiceProsLocal.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. His main talking points are water damage restoration, environmental friendly house building and plant cultivation.