As Hurricane Matthew took aim at Florida's Atlantic shore last week, the predictions were dire: "This storm can kill you," was Governor Rick Scott's blunt warning. State and local officials braced for what could have been catastrophic damage. But as luck would have it, the storm tracked just a few miles farther out to sea — enough to spare the coastline from the worst that could have happened.

As Matthew neared Florida, the National Hurricane Center's best guess called for the storm's eye to scrape along the shore. In the event, the eye moves a few miles east — just enough to keep the worst winds offshore.
As Matthew neared Florida, the National Hurricane Center's best guess called for the storm's eye to scrape along the shore. In the event, the eye moves a few miles east — just enough to keep the worst winds offshore.

Still, the damage in Florida was extensive. "Though the impact from Matthew would have been far more severe if the eye of the storm had passed directly over Volusia County, the area still suffered damage," the Wall Street Journal reported (see: "Hurricane Matthew Batters Florida, Leaving Thousands Without Power," by Arian Campo-Flores. "Part of a pier in the city of Daytona Beach Shores broke off, said Joanne Magley, community information director for the county. Roadways near the Intracoastal Waterway in the city of Port Orange flooded, making bridges inaccessible, she said."

"By late Friday afternoon, the strongest hurricane to menace the United States in a decade had weakened to a Category 2 storm, and it was clear that Florida had dodged some of the worst-case scenarios laid out by forecasters and public officials," reported the Washington Post (see: "Hurricane Matthew batters Florida’s northeast coast; four deaths linked to storm," by Arelis R. Hernández and Mark Berman). But the storm killed several people in Florida, and left more than a million without power, the Post reported.

"By Saturday night, North Carolina felt the brunt of Matthew, with more than a foot of rain falling in the southeastern part of the state, causing life-threatening flash flooding, forecasters said," reported the Orlando Sentinel (see: "Hurricane's blow to Atlantic Coast was less than feared; 'We are blessed'"). "Homes, businesses and roads as far west as Raleigh were also damaged by the deluge," the paper reported. "But in many places along the Southeast coast, the damage consisted mostly of flooded streets, blown-down signs and awnings, flattened trees and power outages. As the storm passed and the skies cleared, many people were already cleaning up, reopening their businesses or hitting the beach. The power started coming back on. And all three major theme parks in Orlando, Florida, including Walt Disney World, were up and running. 'We are all blessed that Matthew stayed off our coast,' Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. 'We are blessed that we didn't have a direct hit.'"