FPL Overpromised: Thousands of Flagler’s Residents Still Without Power; Gov. Scott Due in Flagler Beach in Late Morning
FlaglerLive | October 9, 2016
Last Updated: Monday, 9 a.m.
For more recent coverage of post-Hurricane Matthew recovery, go here.
Quick links to what’s below:
Damages: Surfside Estates
Damages: Sea Colony
Damages: State Road A1A
Bob Pickering’s Preliminary Storm Report Countywide
Previous Storm Days’ Coverage
Other media coverage and useful sites
Monday, 9 a.m.–As of 9 this morning, 17,000 FPL customers were still without power, including vast sections of Palm Coast that had sustained mostly wind damage rather than water issues.
Gov. Rick Scott was due in Flagler Beach at 11 this morning to meet with officials and appear before television cameras, likely at Flagler Beach City Hall. He’ll also be accompanied by Florida Department of Transportation officials who will address the fate of State Road A1A, which suffered such severe damage at the south end of town that large segments of it are closed.
County officials, who have sent out innumerable releases about the storm and previous conferences, did not inform local media about Scott’s visit, and Julie Murphy, a county spokeswoman, hung up on a reporter trying to find out why that information wasn’t being disseminated from the county. Moments later, County Administrator Craig Coffey, who could not be reached directly by phone, texted: “It’s their show.”
Fifteen minutes after hanging up on the reporter, Murphy issued a release alerting local media of the governor’s visit, along with that of other officials.
Rep. John Mica was already in Flagler Beach around 9:30. Mica, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, had previously represented Flagler in Congress (before redistricting) and is influential in securing dollars for roads.
Sunday, 9:54 p.m.–Here are a few essential developments since this afternoon:
Flagler Beach’s curfew, in effect starting at 7 p.m. tonight, will end at 7 a.m. Monday morning, with all travel restrictions lifted for all at that point. The county announced that decision at 8 p.m. But there seemed to be conflicting information about it: at 9:45 p.m., Flagler Beach City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said “there has been further discussion and that is not the case”–that the restrictions on non-Flagler Beach residents will remain in place. “We don’t have power here throughout town. There is no reason for others to be here hampering our recovery.”
But county and city governments are closing all beaches for now. A county release warns debris is littering the beach and the water, including wood from the pier that was partially destroyed, roofing nails, and both metal and wood from the dune walkovers – which have also been left unsafe for use.
FPL over-promised: the company had claimed it was “on track to complete power restoration to essentially all customers by end of day Sunday” in a release issued yesterday, with “pockets of severe flooding and damage likely will extend outages for a few customers until Monday.” Two FPL spokespersons who spoke with FlaglerLive today insisted that that was still the case.
It isn’t: residents across Palm Coast were receiving notices through the afternoon and evening from FPL that “repairs affecting your power restoration are taking longer than we had originally anticipated. We now anticipate that your power will be restored by 10/10/2016 at 11:45 p.m.”
As of Sunday at 9 p.m., 22,790 customers were still without power, out of some 59,000 customers countywide.
But FPL most likely knew that was going to be the case even while its spokespersons were claiming the opposite, as the company was in early afternoon today building an enormous air-conditioned tent at the Flagler County Airport to accommodate up to 1,200 FPL workers, contractors and others brought in for the restoration job. And County Administrator Craig Coffey suggested in an interview that the job of coordinating between the army of workers brought in by FPL had proven challenging.
Also: All school shelters have closed, with sheltering at Bunnell Elementary School transferred to Church on the Rock, which is now serving as the shelter for Flagler County. Church on the Rock is located at 2200 N. State Street, Bunnell. The phone number is 386-437-9915. The Palm Coast Branch Library will open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday as a “comfort center” with limited services, the county said this evening.
Power Restoration Finally Picking Up Speed as Food Distribution Center Draws Lines to Flagler Airport
Sunday, 5 p.m.–There were two massive operations at the Flagler County Airport today, one of them a little more massive than the other: at the front end of the airport, the National Guard, aided by at least three members of the Flagler County Commission, were distributing food and water to a long stream of residents driving in from around the county.
On the airport tarmac itself, Florida Power and Light and its parent company, NextEnergy, had set up what amounts to a small town to accommodate roughly 1,300 employees–utility workers, tree-cutting company workers, support personnel–and their utility trucks, dozens of which lined the tarmac this afternoon, with many more in the field: it’s a 24-hour operation, so workers are putting in their shifts, returning to the airport grounds to eat and rest, and either returning to the field or getting bused to hotels for longer sleep.
FlaglerLive’s Jon Hardison’s First Drone’s Eye View of Flagler Beach, Post-Storm
This afternoon NextEnergy was building two enormous air-conditioned tents on airport grounds, which together can accommodate 1,200 employees. The second tent was in the middle of being constructed at 2 p.m., suggesting that FPL was here for a longer haul that its public pronouncements were indicating. Still, FPL was insisting that power for most will be restored by the end of day, though FlaglerLive has been receiving reports from residents saying they’re getting notices from FPL that their power won’t be restored until Monday.
By 3 p.m., customers without power were down to 33,000 from 43,670 early this morning, the biggest jump, for the better, since restoration began. But that still left more than two thirds of the county’s customers without power. FPL’s stood by its earlier statement, issued in a release: “FPL is on track to complete power restoration to essentially all customers by end of day Sunday; pockets of severe flooding and damage likely will extend outages for a few customers until Monday.”
But FPL was also putting on a brighter face on a lingeringly dire situation for some: the company claims that it concentrates on restoring power to the most critical infrastructure first, such as hospitals, emergency and 911 centers, and the like. Power to Florida Hospital Flagler was restored yesterday. But Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center in Bunnell, which has been responsible for coordinating the entire response to this emergency, remains without power, and is on its fourth day generator power. Bunnell’s water plant across the street: same story. It had been on generator power. Dozens of county, state and municipal officials, law enforcement and other agencies have been working out of EOC throughout.“FPL, I think they’re doing what they can,” said County Administrator Craig Coffey, who’s been at EOC throughout (except for brief breaks when he’s tried to sleep–in his office at the Government Services Building, which is also on generator power). “I think what happened with FPL in my opinion is they’re Johnny on the sport with so many things, they have such a diversity of contractor coming in.”
“You’ve got to defer to their expertise,” Coffey said of FPL, which has been coordinating its work with numerous contractors who’ve come to help from other companies. “They have mandated down time, new guys coming in who have to be orientated,” Coffey said. “I don’t know what the organization stuff is occurring at the airport and how well they’re being tasked and ordered out.”
In a brief interview at mid-afternoon Coffey said the situation across the county was returning to normal slowly. “Each day gets a little better and we’ll start normalizing,” he said, but “a lot of areas of the county won’t be normal for a long, long time.” He described particularly difficult, ongoing situations in the Hammock and Marineland Acres areas, where water remains high and some 100 residents there are facing difficult challenges, but also getting county responders’ food and water distributions. “There’s a lot of people up there, they’re working, they’re tough, they’re cleaning,” he said, with neighbors helping each other out.There is also a water problem at Bulow Plantation, whose management has simply closed shop and been unresponsive to residents. A Bulow Plantation resident informed Commissioner Revels in the water and food line at the airport, who then informed EOC, where officials have been trying to line up a generator to restore water service at Bulow Plantation, Coffey said.
There’s also been people trying to take advantage of the emergency to do some looting: Coffey said there’s been about five reported burglaries, and last night a man was stopped on the Flagler Beach bridge with burglary tools and drugs.
Overall, however, Coffey said: “We’ve got so many people to be proud of,” and he cited numerous local agencies, including the school board and the sheriff’s office.Up front on the airport property, Airport Director Roy Sieger was directing the food-and-water operation, ensuring that the supplies of food and water continued. Two truck loads of water, totaling some 65,000 bottles, had looked ready to be exhausted by 2 p.m., just as another semi truck was delivering more, and a fourth truck had been requested. Most people streaming into the airport were in need of water and ice (the distribution center was not providing ice), but many were also taking the ready-to-eat meals, provided in cardboard boxes of 14 meals each.
“Somehow we got all low sodium,” said Barbara Revels, chairman of the Flagler County Commission, as she distributed the food boxes.
The airport was not about to run out of those: there were no fewer than six semi trucks full of MREs parked there.
A limited amount of ice–some 1,400 bags–will be available at 4 p.m. at the Winn Dixie on Palm Coast Parkway. The store will have a semi-truck of bagged ice that will be distributed free of charge. “It is wonderful how the whole community is coming together to help out,” Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said.Those interested in donating water may do so between 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday in front of the Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., and again on Monday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Commissioners George Hanns and Nate McLaughlin were also at the distribution site this afternoon. McLaughlin was shuttling food and water to locations in Espanola and the west side of the county, where many people have no transportation.
There are several spots throughout Flagler County where residents can get a meal on Sunday, and the American Red Cross as six roving vehicles distributing meals.
The airport wasn’t the only place for meals, which were being distributed in the following locations:
· Veterans Park, 105 S. 2nd Street, Flagler Beach, from the hours of noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
· The Adult Education Center parking lot, 5633 N. Highway A1A, Hammock, from 4:30 p.m. until about 6 p.m.*
· Flagler County Main Branch Library parking lot, 2500 Palm Coast Pkwy NW, Palm Coast from 4:30 p.m. until about 6 p.m.
· Town Center in Palm Coast (where the food trucks stage), 975 Central Avenue, from 4:30 p.m. until about 6 p.m.
· Near the Bunnell Housing Authority, 414 Bacher Street, Bunnell, noon until about 6 p.m.
· Hidden Trails Community Center parking lot, 6108 Mahogany Blvd., 4:30 p.m. until about 6 p.m. Two of the roving vehicles will be in this area to provide for those who have no way to get to the Community Center.
· Four additional roving vehicles are circulating throughout Flagler County.
Meals will be distributed on Monday at noon and 4:30 p.m. in the same locations.
Palm Coast issued the following on tree removal, debris and the wastewater sewer system:
Tree removal from roads continues – Palm Coast Public Works crews, along with Florida Power & Light crews, are continuing to remove trees from public roads. There are still some residential roads that are impassable due to downed trees that have powerlines tangled in them. Please avoid those areas; any downed powerlines should be considered “hot.” If you have any fallen trees from the public right-of-way that have damaged private property, contact Customer Service at 386-986-2360 to report it.
Debris removal – To expedite debris removal from residences, the City asks residents to help by separating everything at the curb into the following categories:
Vegetative Debris – leaves, logs, plants, tree branches, etc.
Construction & Demolition Debris – building materials, asphalt shingles, drywall, lumber, metal, plastics, etc.
Normal Household Trash – Normal household trash and bagged debris of any kind will not be picked up with debris as part of this program. You should continue to follow your normal garbage and yard trash schedule for normal garbage and bagged storm debris.
Wastewater sewer system – The City’s wastewater sewer system is reaching capacity, and the City is urging residents to limit the use of water – even if they have power. Don’t do laundry and limit flushing and showers.
If you have a pep tank and your power is not back on yet, when your power comes back on, the pep tank alarm may go off. To silence the ring, there’s a re-set button on the side panel located on the side of your house. Then report to Customer Service at 386-986-2360 for required maintenance. The pep system information guide is online at: http://docs.palmcoastgov.com/departments/utility/Pep%20Booklet.pdf.
For residents on gravity sewer, Palm Coast Utility has tanker trucks in the field to hasten the pumping down of our sewer system, but if the system reaches capacity it would cause a backup. So please limit your use of water.
City offices reopening Monday – City Hall, the Palm Coast Community Center and the Utility Office will resume normal operation at 8 a.m. Monday.
Park, trail closures – Frieda Zamba Swimming Pool will be closed Monday and Tuesday. Palm Harbor Golf Club, the Palm Coast Tennis Center and all other City of Palm Coast parks and trails will be closed until cleanup can be completed. If you have a reservation at a park or facility, please contact Parks & Recreation at 386-986-2323.
City bridges – All City bridges have been inspected and are good.
Food distribution – Meal distribution began Sunday at various locations throughout Flagler County and will continue at noon Monday and again at 4:30 p.m. Monday at these locations:
Veterans Park, 105 S. 2nd Street, Flagler Beach.
The Adult Education Center parking lot, 5633 N. Highway A1A, Hammock.
Flagler County Main Branch Library parking lot, 2500 Palm Coast Pkwy NW, Palm Coast.
Town Center in Palm Coast (where the food trucks stage), 975 Central Ave., Palm Coast.
Near the Bunnell Housing Authority, 414 Bacher St., Bunnell.
Hidden Trails Community Center parking lot, 6108 Mahogany Blvd., Bunnell.
Four additional roving vehicles are circulating throughout Flagler County.
If you have property damage, hire a licensed contractor – All contractors other than for debris removal and landscaping/tree removal are required to have a license. Ask to see the license. Call the Palm Coast Building Division at 386-986-3780 to make sure they have the right license. Also, get a written contract before the work starts.
Post-storm safety tips:
Clean and dry everything that got wet, as flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads and commercial buildings.
Throw out spoiled food, cosmetics and medications that have gotten wet. They are a health hazard. Contact the Health Department at 386-437-7358 to dispose of medications.
Do not let children play in or around high water, storm drains or ditches. Besides drowning risks, the water could be contaminated. Additionally, debris and other hazards may not be visible beneath the surface.
Look before you step. Floors and stairs may be covered with slippery mud, or other hazardous materials.
Remember there are animal hazards such as snakes, rodents (and other small animals), fire ants and scorpions. Any or all of these creatures could have entered homes and buildings looking for shelter.
Questions? If you have any questions related to the hurricane recovery, Palm Coast Customer Service would be happy to assist you. Customer Service is 386-986-2360.
Where The Hell Is FPL? Power Restoration Drags, But 660 Utility Workers On The Job Now, Some Businesses Reopen, Gas Spotty
Sunday, Oct. 9, 11:34 a.m.–Flagler County and Palm Coast are struggling to regain essential services such as electric power and gasoline Sunday as Florida Power and Light’s proportion of customers without power remained above 40,000 and the Barrier Island stayed closed to all but local residents.
As of 10:30 a.m., 43,670 Flagler County customers were still without power, with only 15,370 customers’ power restored by then. It appeared that Flagler was not an FPL priority: In comparison, only 16,440 customers are without power in St. Johns County, with 66,320 customers’ power restored there. (“Every one of our customers is a priority,” FPL spokeswoman Alys Daley said, taking exception with the phrasing of this story’s morning-version headline–“Where The Hell Is FPL”–and reiterating that there would be pockets of the county without power past Sunday night.)
Customers in Bunnell this morning were beginning to receive notices from FPL that their power would not be restored until Monday. Another resident wrote: “I just saw your update. I thought it was just me. I received a call yesterday morning saying power should be on by last night but then got another call last night saying they couldn’t get it turned on in time. I have seen no trucks in or around the neighborhood.”
“We are still pledging to restore all of our customers north of Palm Beach County, which of course includes Flagler County, by tonight,” FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said in an extensive interview late this morning. “However you have to understand that Flagler County bore the brunt of the storm.”
Orlov said that while residents may not have noticed too many power trucks on Saturday, they will see some 660 workers in the field today, part of the 15,000 workers the company mobilized from among its own ranks, its own contractors, and other utilities that it’s bringing in from as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as Texas, to help. “You may see that number in Flagler County grow in terms of the number of restoration specialists we have there,” Orlove said, as work completes in any of the other 35 Florida counties that FPL serves, and that were affected by the storm. (In fact, the number of utility workers may be higher: an EnergyNext employee who was not authorized to speak to the press without clearance from FPL’s parent company said the number of employees and support personnel who were staging at the Flagler County Airport topped off near 1,300 Saturday night.)“We know that it is a major inconvenience to be without power even for a short amount of time but what I want to assure our customers is that in Flagler County alone we have over 660 workers that are going to be working throughout the day and night to get our customers’ lights back on,” Orlove said. “Having said that, we see that there is damage, not necessarily to our poles, our poles have held up very well, but the main issue we’re seeing is vegetation,” whether leaning or fallen trees, severed branches, palm fronds, all of which is impeding or has cut power lines. “We have to be able to go in and clear all of the downed vegetation before we’re able to restore power. We also needed to wait until the wind died down and the water receded.”
Orlove acknowledged that power was being restored faster in St. Johns County because “every county is different,” in that St. Johns’s issues may have been less challenging. But Flagler and Palm Coast did not experience catastrophic infrastructure issues.
Orlove explained the method the workers are applying to restoring power: while the idea is to more quickly restore power to the largest number of people, crews begin with restoration to critical services: hospitals, police and 911 centers and the like. They then move on to major arteries, along which communities’ main services operate: grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants. Any customers who happen to share those grids will see their lights come back on as those arteries’ power is restored. Only then will crews go deep into neighborhoods, restoring strictly residential areas that are not served by those larger grids. “They go from the larger areas down the smaller,” Orlove said.
Orlove stressed that safety trumps all: crews must do their work safely–they were impeded by standing water, for example, which restricts their ability to repair underground issues–but as far as residents are concerned, “now is not the time to go out exploring,” he said. Residents must not go into standing water, which could be covering live power lines and lead to electrocution. They should not do anything but call 911 when they spot a downed power line.
Meanwhile, mainland residents can rejoice: all alcohol sale restrictions have been lifted. But Flagler Beach’s curfew is still in place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. That means bars may open and serve alcohol, but movement is still restricted after 7 p.m. That said, The Anchor in Flagler Beach is open and serving until 6 p.m. tonight. Go toast the town and give them your grateful business.
County government opened a “point of distribution” center to issue food and bottled water at no cost at the Flagler County Airport, 201 Airport Road, off State Road 100. Follow directions you enter the area since it is expected to be congested with traffic. The distribution is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. or sooner, depending on the availability of supplies.
A Florida Hospital Flagler official is urging local residents to be extremely cautious when removing debris. “That’s when ERs see a lots of visitors with cleanup related injuries, and we don’t want anyone getting hurt,” he official said this morning.
The county has a debris hotline: 386/586-5111.
Along those lines, the county issued the following debri-removal information:
County residents who live in the unincorporated areas of Flagler County are asked to place any storm-generated debris on the public right-of-way. Debris removal operations will begin on Monday, October 10.
The public right-of-way is the area of residential property that extends from the street to the sidewalk, ditch, utility pole, or easement on public roads. This does not apply to privately maintained roads.
Keep vegetative debris (woody burnable debris such as limbs and shrubbery) separated from construction and demolition debris, as they will be collected separately. Only debris that was generated from the storm will be collected. Bagged debris should not be placed on the public right-of-way; only loose debris will be collected.
If you have any hazardous waste to dispose of, Flagler County’s household hazardous waste collection center and recycle drop-off center is operated at the closed C & D Facility, located at 1700 South Old Kings Road. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This service is provided free of charge to Flagler County residents, including city residents.Hazardous waste accepted at the landfill includes used motor oil, antifreeze, lead-acid and rechargeable batteries, paints, thinners and solvents, pool chemicals, fluorescent light bulbs and gasoline. Do not place debris near water meter vaults, fire hydrants or any other aboveground utility. Only debris placed on the public right-of-way will be eligible for collection until further notice.
Regarding power, residents’ grumbles were growing Sunday, with numerous residents complaining on Facebook and in emails to FlaglerLive about not seeing FPL trucks in the area, and about the company’s slow updates.
“FPL seems to think it’s sufficient to update every 24 hours, but every four would be nice,” one reader wrote.
“I may be looking in the wrong area, but I haven’t seen a single FPL truck or private contractor in [Palm Coast] working. it almost seemed to be they purposely shut off the power ahead of the storm. Reading the FPL website, they ‘promise’ more or less to have power restored to all customers north of Palm Beach before 23:45 hrs Sunday. Nothing like waiting to the last minute. And I assume you can’t tell them off because they will use that against you in the future. so be careful not to piss the almighty off.”
Flagler County Emergency services puts the number of FPL linemen in the county at 275.
Barrier Island Opens, Palm Coast Streets All But Cleared, A Mess to Reckon With But Serious Damage Is Limited
Saturday, 8:33 p.m.–A quick late-breaking update: the curfew that was in effect from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. countywide has been lifted for all but the Barrier Islands. It remains in effect from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. in Flagler Beach, the Hammock, Beverly Beach and Marineland, as does the ban on alcohol sales during curfew hours (however unnecessary and inappropriate, considering how much people who’ve busted their hide all day to clean up deserve a drink at night.)
Our apologies for going several hours without an update earlier: we just spent the last three hours on a tour of the Barrier Island’s most-damaged areas, three in particular: the Hammock (Sea Colony), Surfside Estates in Beverly Beach, and the shattered parts of State Road A1A from around 12th Street South, and further south.
The Barrier Island was struck most severely by Hurricane Matthew, but the mess looks more serious than it is, even in the most heavily-struck zones: the county could use a massive vacuuming.
We saw again and again, even along A1A’s oceanfront homes, some lost shingles here and there, but no lost roofs (though we heard from a city commissioner in Flagler Beach yesterday that a few houses had lost their roofs). Power lines along A1A were uncompromised, though along avenues further west there’d been quite a few downed power lines. The occasional garage door had been punched in with heavy objects, the occasional window shattered, the occasional gutters or eaves torn, twisted, mangled, the occasional screened-in porch ripped, especially on older homes, but all in all, the damage is more occasional than pervasive.
Palm Coast may have looked messier, but only because it’s more heavily wooded, more prone to fallen trees and tree limbs turning into missiles.
There’s a lot of superficial damage, but no evidence of an entire structure being lost. Even at Surfside Estates, the losses were peripheral rather than total at any given structure. (In Palm Coast, not a single structure was lost to the storm, though many are contending with downed trees on roofs, fences and so on.)
Sea Colony has the look of a lake interspersed with a few homes right now, but the greater majority of homes–at least today–appeared to have survived just above the waterline. Whether that was the case at the height of the storm, we don’t know, but we do know that Flagler County Fire Rescue carried out five rescues from homes toward the tail end of the storm, where people who had decided to stay behind finally wizened up and asked to be pulled out–only to then change their mind and stay anyway, after rescuers had reached them. Fire Rescue actually carried out some of the rescues on jet skis. In other words, flood water did penetrate some homes.
Near the ocean at Sea Colony the surge brought in not just a flood of water but a flood of sand, turning Sea Vista Drive into a satellite version of Mud Muckers. Some of that mud seeped into homes, and residents in one house showed how water rose just under a foot in their garage, but ostensibly less so in the rest of the house. Several other people we spoke with along that street and near it said the water did not damage their interiors. We’d heard reports from county officials earlier in the day that up to 200 homes in Sea Colony had some flood damage.
That became clear when, shortly after the first version of this post went up, Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito sent us a set of images taken by his rescuers the day of the storm at Sea Colony, when they went there to execute several rescues (in every case, the people who’d called them changed their mind and opted to stay despite the flood.) The pictures show not a Sea Colony, but merely a Sea, interspersed here and there with houses. The water had risen to the level of speed limit signs in many places. See those images below.
Residents were returning to their homes slowly today, with many roads in Sea Colony looking entirely navigable but for some standing water, the occasional uprooted palm blocking part of the way, and quite a bit of debris. But if you’re returning home to Sea Colony, don’t be frightened by the entrance’s mass of Jurassic-like rain of ripped vegetation: it gets quickly better as you move in.
At Surfside Estate, as noted below, the damage is extensive, but most homes that were damaged appear more in need of serious repairs rather than replacement. A few properties, sadly, looked as if some of their doors had been blown open, but we did not encounter the sort of household belongings you’d expect to be littering streets after a ravaging wind event, so it looked like despite those breaches, the houses kept their belongings contained. Not so when it came to car porches, patio furniture, plants and the like: those became a unhappy salad of projectiles and mangles. (Images will be added below momentarily.)
Jim Ardell, the former mayor of Beverly Beach (2012-15) and a long-time resident of Surfside Estates, opted to remain at the property during the thick of the storm–taking refuse in the very solid clubhouse.
“In 2004 I came here during Hurricane Charley,” Ardell said, standing in the noonday sun next to the clubhouse. “I was scared. I was really scared. Then, my fear factor went down a significant percent because I was used to it, then Frances comes. And Frances hit a lot harder for a lot longer. Then came Hurricane Jean. Now, with Hurricane Frances, the water came down a quarter of the way down my street, Anchorage Drive. This storm came halfway down the street, blew a lot harder, just inundated many houses, just destroyed at least 50 houses, as far as their car ports and their porches. That’s probably about a third of the structures. Some people lost their roofs. The storm was a much more intense than either Frances or Jean or Charley.”
Ardell said he heard nothing as he stayed in the clubhouse, which he described as sronger than the county’s Emergency Operations Center. “There it is, I can guarantee it. But the neighborhood didn’t fare so well. New construction did well, older construction didn’t fare so well,” Ardell said.
Damaged homes aside, the saddest part of the Barrier Island is its southern beachside along A1A, much of which has been sheared off as if by a deranged god reenacting the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but against the dunes and A1A. In painfully long stretches from 112th Street South, a third to half of A1A is simply not there anymore. It gapes, its asphalt just ending abruptly, its dunes looking like mini cliffs of Dover, its rock revetments below, brought in over the years supposedly to protect the dunes from erosion, plundered and scattered not just on the beach, but over and on top of the road. Some residents reported enormous boulders chucked by the surge from the beach onto their beachfront property (but no losses to their home).
The road is not drivable. It’s closed at around 12th Street, but open to people on foot, who walked to the edge of the new cliffs, took pictures and video with their cell phones, kept a hand to their mouth in disbelief, talked to each other as it to take a measure of the small disaster that had yet again befallen their town: yet again, because that same stretch of A1A had been partially demolished about a decade ago, though not nearly to this extent, and not for such lengths. At one point today we saw a couple of Florida Department of Transportation trucks amble up what was left of the road, their emergency lights flashing: A1A is the responsibility of the state highways department. It will be paying for its repair entirely. But when that repair will take place, and with what additional protections, is not known of course.
For all the destruction, the mess, the shortages, the restrictions on travel and the inconveniences, it is more remarkable that not a single life was lost, no one reported storm-related injuries, no first-responders were injured during the storm, and again, the loss to property was relatively minimal, compared to what was fearedL: but for Matthew’s 11th-hour wobble east (it happened at 11 p.m., about 12 hours before the eye reached Flagler), Flagler Beach and the Barrier Island could have been obliterated.
Sea Colony on Saturday:
Palm Coast Damage:
Andy Dance, the Flagler County School Board member and planning and landscape architect, sent in these two sets of images that perfectly show the contrast between Palm Coast properties before and after the storm. These were taken off Old Kings Road near Bulow Plantation. Click on the images for larger view:
Some Vital Post-Storm Information:
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.–Flagler Beach, Palm Coast and the rest of the county Saturday were evaluating the damages and dangers left behind from Hurricane Matthew as residents who fled or stayed in place contend with travel restrictions, persistent power outages and other challenges. Saturday morning here’s what residents should know:
Flagler Beach on the Barrier Island, along with Beverly Beach, the Hammock, Marineland and its unincorporated regions were to remain closed to all but government and emergency traffic through tonight. But at shortly after noon, officials rescinded that order and opened the island to local traffic.
Flagler County schools will remain closed at least through Monday and Tuesday, as three shelters in three schools are still being used as such, and district officials will need the next few days to evaluate damage to school buildings.
Electric power remains out for upwards of 50,000 customers, the overwhelming majority of residents and businesses in the cities and the county. But Florida Power and Light is projecting to have all power restored by Sunday to all but a few pockets of problematic areas.
If Flagler Beach is slow to recover, Palm Coast is already well on its way. “The city is great,” Cindi Lane, the city’s chief spokesperson, said this morning. “As soon as yesterday the permission was given for the crews to be back out we had all our employees who were waiting, they were chomping at the bit to get out there.”
They started working at 3 p.m., as soon as the winds fell below 45 mph. Their plan was already in place. Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Forte said the city was split into a half dozen zones, with road, utility, fire and even IT crews fanning out through every single street to immediately provide a census of any area with downed trees and power lines.
They found 15 to 20 percent of Palm Coast’s streets with some form of blockage. They fed all that information to Station 25, which was then sent to the Emergency Operations Center, where FPL took hold of it. City crews then got to work clearing the streets so that by this morning all but 4 percent of city streets were drivable.
One of the most heavily hit areas from the storm surge were Surfside Estates and Sea Colony, both of which suffered from serious flooding. At Surfside, where reporters just walked through, about three to four rows of hours, going east from the Intracoastal, were flooded during the storm, but by less than half a foot of water. About 50 homes were seriously damaged, but mostly losing car ports and external features, including slabs of roof. Most of the homes survived, and many survived almost intact but for a few twists of metal here and there.
Storm / Damage Reports:
Event / Time / Location / Source / Notes
Tree down on pool screen / 18 Elseworth Palm Coast Fl / Skywarn
Tree down / 1145hrs / Fermill / Skywarn
Road washout / 1316hrs / Flagler Beach A1A S 16th / 1316hrs / One half of the NB A1A lane washed away / S.M.
Significant roof damage multiple homes along A1A / 1356hrs / A1A Flagler Beach / Skywarn
End of the pier is missing / 1400hrs / Flagler Beach / Skywarn- ARES
Multiple reports trees and traffic signals down / 1350hrs / Palm Coast / REACT Units
Beverly Beach Surfside Estate /1634 / 60-70% damage of the manufactured homes.
Multiple Reports of damage countywide of varying degrees some very minor, a few structures with roof damage.
There may have been several weak tornadoes based on damage reports We will try to get to those areas and confirm later.
– South of the “Woodlands section” of Palm Coast
– Hammock near Bing’s landing.
Storm Surge Reports
Water is 44 inches over top of seawall in NE Palm Coast – 1606hrs Note high tide normally is 24” below the seawall.
Water into Bull Creek Fishcamp restaurant from Dead Lake – 10/8/2016
Storm surge impacted areas north of Malacompra Road to the north county line with water reaching A1A. Dune breaches observed 10/7/2016
Reports of a 5-6 foot surge were received in the Palm Coast canals 10/7/2016
Notable Rainfalls 9/13-14/2016:
Amount / Location / Source / Notes
5.20” / Bunnell / Flagler EOC / Storm Total
4.90” / St. Johns Park / Skywarn / Storm Total
6.02” / Pine Lakes Palm Coast / Skywarn / Storm Total
Notable Wind Reports: MG Measured Gust EG Estimated Gust
Reading / Time / Location / Source / Notes
MG 53 mph / 0231 / Marineland / Wx Station
MG 51 mph / 0516 / Flagler Beach / Wx Station
MG 62 mph / 0537/ Marineland / Wx
MG 61 mph / 0543 / Flagler County EOC / Bunnell
MG 57 mph / 0650 / Flagler Beach Sta 11
MG 61 mph / 0741 / Flagler Beach / Skywarn
MG 76 mph / 1118hrs / Flagler Beach / Skywarn
MG 83 mph / 1145hrs / Flagler Beach / Skywarn handheld anemometer
MG 65 mph / 1239hrs / Palm Coast / Skywarn /
MG 86 mph / 1246hrs / North Palm Coast / Skywarn
Multiple reports winds 55-65 mph coast and inland, most of them were along the coast 1100hrs – 1400hrs
According to the National Weather Service the last two tropical cyclones that impacted the region with this intensity
Were the 1893 Hurricane that pushed a storm surge ashore from Palm Beach to Jacksonville and 1964’s Hurricane
Dora. The storm surge measurements so far exceeded of previous storms.
Of note was a hurricane that happened in 1885 which also had a similar path but there is little record of it’s impact
Other than storm surges in Cocoa Beach that caused a lighthouse to be moved westward.
Parts of A1A Wash Out, Damage Widespread But Not Catastrophic, Power Out Several Days, Curfew On
Friday 9:17 p.m. Update–At 6:30 this evening Flagler County authorities issued a stern and seemingly non-compromising alert that included a curfew in effect immediately, a warning to residents who had evacuated not to return to their homes yet, and word that power may be out “several days” still, as officials are focusing on clearing roads first, not restoring power lines just yet.
Damage in Flagler County is widespread but not catastrophic, except in Flagler Beach, where parts of State Road A1A south of the pier have washed out, reducing the road to a lane or less (and to non-drivable conditions, as more of the road may yet crumble). The pier itself is somewhat heavily damaged. Many homes have lost roofs and fences, and thousands of trees across the county have fallen, many of them on power lines, some on homes or lanais. But structural damage to most homes appears for now to be limited.
“It’s like a bomb went off here,” Rick Belhumeur, a Flagler Beach city commissioner, said this evening, referring mostly to debris strewing the streets in Flagler Beach as he stood downtown, by city hall. “There’s damage to some of the walkovers, but not all, damage to the pier. I did see a couple of roofs blown off along A1A, not entire roofs, but portions of. Anybody that didn’t go under water for Hurricane Charlie didn’t go under this time, so Charlie, the surge, was higher than this one, or very close to being the same. We came a few inches short. I’m kind of glad of that. I live at probably the lowest point on Flagler Avenue, and when Charlie came through, the water back-filled the swimming pool, and it didn’t get that far this time. That’s how I know that’s a fact.”
Right then at nearly 8:30 p.m., the city manager, Larry Newsom, and other city officials, including law enforcement, were putting up barricades to keep people from driving on A1A and on Central Avenue, because of downed wires. “The guys from Tortuga’s, which used to be Fuego del Mar, those guys are feeding law enforcement that’;s here, working. Even though they don’t have electric, they’re cooking with gas.”
Five deaths have been attributed to the storm in Florida so far, but none in Flagler County, though there were a few medical issues and, in some cases, authorities had to coach people about CPR during the emergency, when paramedics could not go on the roads.
Roads, however, were a ravage of debris, and major arteries like Palm Coast Parkway could be unrecognizable in parts, as FlaglerLive’s Jon Hardison describes in the following video:
Here’s where Flagler lucked out: Hurricane Matthew struck the area just before high tide, sparing it the worst of storm surge damage, even though that may not be so apparent along A1A. But A1A could have been washed out entirely in parts. In fact, it mostly survived, with the usual areas of vulnerability that have washed out before being struck again, such as those near the Island Grill (formerly Island Grill). The storm coincided with high tides in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, where damage and flooding along the coast line seems to be much more severe.
At 6 p.m., Flagler County emergency authorities issued the following county-wide alert, sent out as a Code Red alert to cell phones, emails and functioning land lines: here it is in full:
This is the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center. A county-wide curfew is in effect. This means all residents, including business owners are under a mandatory executive order to shelter in place. You are to remain in the structure you are currently in. Power is out to the entire county and will remain as such for up to several days. Individuals should bear in mind that emergency personnel and crews are working to re-establish road ways so power may begun to be restored. Attempting to drive is not only a violation of a mandatory order, but will impede emergency operations and subject anyone who violates these orders to law enforcement actions.
As power will remain out for several days, consumption of electric devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, will NOT have the ability to be re-charged off power supplies for several days. Individuals should reserve the power to their devices to communicate emergency life threatening or security issues to 911. To report downed trees in and around your current location you may contact 386-586-5111. Calling repeatedly to report the same issues of inaccessible roads only serves to further delay the restoration of electrical services.
Residents who evacuated the beaches should not expect access to the beach for several days. NO individual will be granted access to the beaches and should not attempt to return. Mass notification, such as this, as to when it is safe to return to the county, or to leave your current location will be communicated as soon as it is possible.
The order is not making much of a difference, however: the roads are busy with traffic, and authorities will use common sense when encountering individuals who drive past curfew, Jim Troiano, the sheriff’s chief spokesman, said. For example, if people are reporting to work (and several businesses will be resuming or prepare to resume operations this weekend), their travel will not be impeded. Nor will residents be forbidden from returning to their homes in zones where there aren’t life-threatening issues such as dangling power lines or precariously positioned trees.
Official pronouncements will also be contending with the normal psychology of post-storm reactions: as is the case this evening, with traffic scouring the county, residents can only be contained so much, and authorities don’t have the manpower to police every neighborhood.
The code red alert was also inaccurate and at variance with law: the power is not out countywide (some areas of the old C section and Seminole Woods, for starters, have power) nor does the county commission’s curfew authorization gives anyone in emergency management the authority to extend the curfew, or impose it before 7 p.m., as the early evening alert presumed.
Likely recognizing the vagueness and unnecessary overreach of the earlier alert, an oddly grim-sounding Craig Coffey, the county manager, issued a briefer Code Red alert at 8:30 p.m. Specifying that the curfew is in effect only between 7 p.m. And 7 a.m. But he again repeated the nanny recomnendation against using cell phones for anything but emergency calls. (Coffey on Saturday said he had not done the recording, and that Bob Pickering, the county emergency weather specialist, did.)
A cautionary note while power is out at traffic intersections: authorities request that you treat all such intersections as four-way stops. That means stopping your car and letting others pass in turns, as you would at any actual four-way stop. Do not assume you have priority.
Serious and Widespread But Not Catastrophic Damage So Far As Flagler Resists Matthew’s Peak Impact; 50,150 Lose Power; Parts of A1A Washed Out
3:30 p.m. Update: Dramatic live video by Tony Lulgjuraj, the owner of Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill in Flagler Beach, taken between 1 and 2:30 p.m. (and continuing) is the first indication of the extent–and limit–of the damage in Flagler Beach: the city has largely survived, but with serious scars to State Road A1A and to some buildings, including sheared roofs, broken windows, minor collapsed structures but no catastrophic losses.
The two most important structural losses appear to be large sections of State Road A1A–which nevertheless remains drivable: it has not sustained an entire loss at any point, though there’s time yet for that–and the Flagler Beach Pier, which has sustained heavy damage. It has not, however, washed away entirely, as was feared.
Even though Flagler Beach survived the worst-feared damage, its residents were still shaken by what thy were witnessing as the storm lifted.
Gloria Gaynor Gives Matthew a Piece of Her Mind
“I’ve been here on and off since ’74,” Flagler County School Board member Colleen Conklin said. “I’ve never seen this kind of damage.” She lives near the water tower at the south end of town. She was checking on family and had at one point tried to see the pier, but the damage on the way was too severe, and she turned back.
There had been little flooding reported, but a comprehensive survey had not been conducted.
at 3 p.m., county authorities cut off access to the Barrier Island, because of the damage.
“This is not a curfew. No one will be permitted to enter the barrier island,” said Steve Garten, Flagler County public safety emergency manager. “This will be enforced by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.”
Emergency personnel will begin entering the area to rescue those who did not leave the coastal area, as a portion of State Road A1A washed out south of the pier in Flagler Beach near the Topaz.
“We don’t want anyone on the beachside who doesn’t need to be there,” Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “We need to be able to get an assist those people who are in the most need.”
A curfew will be imposed on the mainland portions of Flagler County at 7 p.m. tonight. Residents are being asked to stay inside where they are and off of the roadways. Crews have begun clearing trees in the affected areas, as the most severe portion of the storm has passed. Florida Power and Light crews are expected soon to start repairs.
Earlier this afternoon, Flagler County Fire Rescue personnel executed a technical rescue at 39 Nantucket Drive in Sea Colony, where a man in his wheelchair and his wife–Melville and Jessie Wight, who’ve lived there since 2011–had decided to brave the storm but ended up stuck in their house, which flooded. “It took us about an hour to navigate A1A because there were trees down, lines down,” Flagler Fire Chief Don Petito said. Rescuers pulled them out at 3 p.m.
“We got her back out of the house but then she said it looks like it’s going down, I want to stay,” Petito said.
Rescuers were ready to conduct one other rescue on Rollins Drive nearby, but those residents too ultimately decided to stay.
Residents outside of the Barrier Island who left Flagler are eager to get home, and wondering whether they can do so today or tonight. The Sheriff’s Office’s Jim Troiano said that while law enforcement won;t be forbidding people to reclaim their homes, they are strongly urging residents to hold off on returning, especially if they end up returning at night, after curfew.
There are three reasons for the curfew, and for people to stay away for now: first, to control looting, and to give law enforcement a clearer sense of who is in the area, and who shouldn’t be. Second, to minimize issues on the roads, which are without traffic signalization, since power is out in the majority of the county and FPL is barely starting to send crews out in late afternoon. Third, to prevent mishaps with downed power lines and downed trees, which are all over the place.
“It’s not yet the time to come home, and especially doing it at night,” Troiano said. “Are we going to use good common sense? We are, but we’re asking citizens to do the same.” He added: “By tomorrow, this will be better, and hopefully we’ll start having more of the road clear. There’s a lot of good effort happening already.” Troiano himself was speaking as he was driving on State Road A1A in the Hammock, where parts of A1A were entirely under water.
“My utmost respect goes out to our professionals and our emergency management,” County Commissioner George Hanns said late this afternoon. “They have kept me informed and many people in the community, they have done an outstanding job.” He was especially thankful for Nate McLaughlin, the commissioner who stepped in for Barbara revels–who chairs the commission–and fulfilled duties as vice chairman at the Emergency Operations Center, signing emergency declarations and such.
Hanns rode out the storm with Family on Bird Tree Place. “I’m pleased to say everyone is safe and sound we had a lot of debris in the yard and I just want my family in Chicago, New York, California, Wisconsin and Idaho, as well as Florida is everything is fine,” Hanns said. “We took care of business and saved the pasta sauce and the hot pepper sauce, and everything is good and we’ll be talking to you all soon.”
Here are video reports from Flagler Beach taken in early afternoon:
Tony Lulgjuraj, owner of Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill in Flagler Beach, was braving the hurricane and not only staying on the Barrier Island, but taking reconnaissance rides through Flagler Beach in his H-1 Hummer, which allowed him to survey the damage. Late this morning, damage was limited, he said, though the most severe damage he saw was at Snack Jack’s, the oceanside restaurant, where the roof had been sheared off and a power pole had fallen.
“The winds are really bad out there,” Lulgjuraj said in an interview at 12:20 p.m., after he’d decided to return home at 18th Street. He lives on the Intracoastal. The surge had brought the water up to within two feet of the dock on that side. On the beach side, water was “bouncing up on top of the beach at 18th Street,” he said, but so far the ocean was staying shy of State Road A1A in the spots he’d surveyed–enough that he could navigate the road.
Also in Flagler Beach, just south of Wickline Park, west side of Daytona Avenue, a resident describing conditions as “ugly” reported that his Lanai had just collapsed around the pool at 12:45 p.m. “I’m surprised these oak trees are hanging in as well as they are. So far it’s a little debris, no big chunks of trees in the roads at this point, not in the immediate vicinity,” he said. The water, he said, is about 3 feet above sea level. He continued: “I don’t see any real signs where it’s coming over the Intracoastal at this point. I think we’re at the height of it at this point, I don’t think it’s going to get any stronger. Actually I see a little brightness, a bit of sunshine sneaking through. Electric went out about two and a half hours ago,” or about 10:30 a.m.
Further north in the Hammock, Christopher Goodfellow was reporting by way of a neighbor who had stayed behind that while the street was clean at 10:30 a.m., “things changed last half hour,” as “ocean has breached the Dunes at Rollins Dunes.” He said the neighbor has “water up to my steps and in garage now. He informs me there is a lot of flotsam floating by…they have retreated to second floor. They are safe.” County officials had feared that the ocean could breach dunes at several spots in the Hammock, where the ocean is level with the road, as at Jungle Hut Road and Malacompra.
A Couple of images from Surf Club and Lakeside at Matanzas:
Here are three views from the R Section:
The damage in Marina Cove:
Flooding was arresting in parts of the Hammock. Here, at the corner of Cottonwood and Solee in the Armand Beach area, a couple who chose to stay saw all their surrounding streets flooded. The corner in the video below is 300 yards from the ocean:
Here’s Wasserman Drive around Wynfield in Palm Coast, where trees and power lines tangled:
On 16th Road in the Hammock, scraps of resort deck were seen floating east toward Publix:
At 3 p.m., Dave Sullivan was reporting from Front Street in Grand Haven that water in the Intracoastal was still rising: “My dock walkway underwater for only the second time in fifteen years. Damage from storm not over yet.” Here’s the picture:
No section of Palm Coast was spared: on Porcupine Drive, a large pine tree branch busted through the lanai:
More from the P-Section, on President Lane:
At 1:20 p.m., water was breaching the walls in C-Section canal zones. Here’s a video:
Pine trees bending toward oblivion on Seattle Trail, and tree damage on a property at Seaton Valley Path:
Walkovers along A1A have been sheared off:
Some damage at European Village:
Tree on a house at Fox Hall Lane, in Palm Coast, happened at 1 p.m.:
A neighbor’s trampoline tried to jump the fence at this L-Section property around noon today in Palm Coast:
Video from James Spooner at Cimarron Drive in Palm Coast:
Just before 9 a.m., trees were down at Carr Court and Carr Lane in Palm Coast:
In the P-Section, which lost power at 8:30 this morning, a destitute man who was sleeping in his truck in back of a friend’s property says his sleep was “interrupted” when a tree crashed on his truck. He survived to tell the tale:
“Dawn’s early light,” as a reader tells us, on Bren Mar Lane, looking toward Belle Terre Parkway and Bridgehaven, where the reader reported fitful electricity, “constant rain with strong gusts but no apparent damage”:
Here’s the scene on Cerrudo Lane in Palm Coast at 8:30 this morning (with thanks to Ellen Stanford):
Here’s a video of the Flagler Beach Pier getting damaged Thursday evening, courtesy of John Kearney:
- B Section: From Birchwood Drive in Palm Coast, “trees are bending and hitting the house,” resident reports, “the canal in back is pretty active.”
- C Section: A little after 10 a.m., a resident on Crossview Lane in Palm Coast reported: “We still have power and water is only a few inches over our dock deck floor. Our wind meter registered 76 mph. Trees & bushes are whipping & bending but no big breaks yet. Only a few pieces of debris washing up In our canal so far.”
- C Section, Crandon Court was reporting a dock, boathouse and 3 to 4 feet of property “completely submerged,” with “streets draped in debris from trees. No street flooding, as swales are doing well,” and property’s lanai screening so far holding up.
- E Section, Edgemont Lane reporting heavy rain but cable went out (which, for many customers, means no phone, either, as it’s tied to their Brighthouse cable service), but swales holding up.
- Espanola lost power at 8 a.m.
- E Section: A tree fell on a power line just after 9 a.m., rupturing power for that neighborhood. “Transformer going crazy,” a reader reports.
- Flagler Beach: Snack Jack’s, the restaurant, had suffered heavy damage.
On Saturday, October 8, three open shelters–Buddy Taylor Middle, Rymfire Elementary and Bunnell Elementary–consolidated into Bunnell Elementary School.
- Questions? Call Flagler County Emergency Operations, 386/586-5111, but that’s for Flagler residents and business owners only..