Dominion: 'Virtually all customers' to have power back by Wednesday

Associated Press, Daily Press staff

Update 11:15 a.m. Tuesday

Dominion stated that "virtually all customers" who lost power during Hurricane Matthew will have power restored by Wednesday. The remainder of those customers can expect to have power back by Thursday, the electricity company stated.

Thus far, 90 percent of the 462,000 Dominion customers who lost power have had service restored.

In Hampton Roads, about 31,000 don't have power. About 18,500 of those people are in Virginia Beach. About 900 people in Newport News do not have power, the most of any locality in the Greater-Peninsula area.

Update 3 p.m. Monday

Everyone's power should be restored by 11 p.m. Thursday at the latest and most will have power before then, Dominion Power said via Twitter Monday.

According to Dominion's website, those without power on the Middle Peninsula — about 304 customers — can expect restoration by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The more than 6,000 still without power on the Peninsula can expect power by 11 p.m. Thursday, as can the more than 65,000 people affected by outages on the Southside. 

Update 2 p.m. Monday

The National Weather service issued a flood warning for Isle of Wight County and the city of Suffolk Monday afternoon. 

The alert, set to expire at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, warned that local law enforcement was reporting flooded roads in both areas. NWS said Isle of Wight and Suffolk had both received 8-12 inches of rain since Saturday morning. 

The warning noted that most flood-related deaths happen in vehicles and drivers should turn around instead of driving into flooded areas. 

Update 10 a.m. Monday

Dominion power will provide a projection of when customers will have power restored around mid-day Monday, according to a news release.

The projection will provide general time frames, and the company stated it will be able to provide individual estimates for customers once the damage is more completely assessed.

The company anticipates restoration work will last several days in its eastern region, which contains Hampton Roads.

Dominion stated it has restored power to 70 percent of the 462,000 people across Virginia and northeastern North Carolina who lost electricity because of Hurricane Matthew. In Hampton Roads, about 90,000 are currently without power. In Hampton about 3,800 are without power, and about 4,300 in Newport News do not have power.

This is the first day Dominion has been able to respond fully to outages and downed wires and power lines because of the lingering effects of the storm on Sunday, and crews are still working in and around areas with flooding.

More than 2,300 people are working to restore power, and 500 more line workers are expected to join the response, along with workers from other utilities who are helping out, according to Dominion. On Monday morning, Dominion stated there were still 3,600 work locations.

Critical services, such as 911 call centers, water pumping stations and hospitals, are receiving priority response. According to Dominion, 433 critical services were impacted, and 87 percent of those services have had power restored.

 

Update 9 a.m. Monday

Dominion power reports about 94,000 of its customers in Hampton Roads are still without power. Hampton has about 5,300 people without electricity, and Newport News has just under 5,000.

On the Southside, more than 48,000 people do not have electricity in Virginia Beach, the most of any Hampton Roads locality.

The total number of people in Hampton Roads area who lost power peaked at about 340,000. On Sunday, there were about 500 locations Dominion crews needed to work on, according to Dominion spokesman Dan Genest.

"In the aftermath, there are many locations with broken poles and cross arms and wire down," a release from Dominion stated. "Our crews are out in force, but they have been limited in their ability to get to repair locations due to flooded roads. Flooding is expected to recede as the day progresses and access improves."

The release also advised that it would be a few days until power could be restored to all customers experiencing outages.

Update 7 p.m. Sunday

Newport News school officials announced Sunday that Gatewood PEEP, the preschool program, and Sedgefield Elementary School would be closed Monday, but all other schools in the district will open as scheduled. 

Update 6 p.m. Sunday

According to VDOT, a tree that fell across I-64 eastbound more than three hours ago has been cleared.

All lanes were blocked at Queens Creek Bridge past Camp Peary. Traffic was getting through on the right shoulder. 

Update 5:00 p.m.: 

The NWS has extended the wind advisory in place for the Middle Peninsula, Isle of Wight and Suffolk counties, and Newport News, Hampton and Poquoson until midnight Monday. The advisory warns of north winds blowing at 20 to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.

The coastal flood advisory that was in place until 8 a.m. Monday has been canceled.

Both the flood warning and the flash flood watch from the NWS have expired. 

Update 4:00 p.m.: The cities of Hampton and Newport News are two of six localities in Hampton Roads that have declared a state of emergency, according to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office.

Middlesex County on the Middle Peninsula; and Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Portsmouth on the Southside have also declared emergencies.

Shelters for residents are open in Hampton, Portsmouth and Norfolk, according to a news release.

“As anticipated, we have had some impacts from the storm and I have directed our state agencies to make every resource available to local authorities as they respond to floods and power outages, particularly in the Hampton Roads area,” McAuliffe said in the news release. “As our response continues, I urge Virginians in affected areas to monitor local reports and limit unnecessary travel so responders can do their jobs quickly.”

Several state agencies are providing assistance, along with the Virginia National Guard.

For information about the impact and response efforts in your area, visit www.vaemergency.gov.

According to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, peak winds for the past 48 hours in the region are as follows:

• Newport News: Newport News/Williamsburg Airport 52 mph; Fort Eustis 41 mph

• Norfolk: Airport 60 mph; Ghent 60 mph; Downtown 44 mph

• Poquoson: Messick 61 mph

• Hampton: Langley 61 mph; Buckroe Beach 32 mph; Fox Hill 28 mph

• Gloucester: Courthouse 40 mph

• Isle of Wight: Carrollton 36 mph

• James City County: Lightfoot 37 mph

• Mathews: Bavon 59 mph; Fort Nonsense 39 mph; Moon 22 mph

• York County: Seaford 37 mph; York Terrace 28 mph

Update 3:15 p.m.: According to a tweet from the Virginia Department of Transportation, all lanes are blocked on I-64 eastbound at Queens Creek Bridge past Camp Peary because of a fallen tree. VDOT advises that a detour is being set, and major delays should be expected. 

Update 2:00 p.m.: A Coastal Flood Warning remains in effect until 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, including Hampton and Poquoson, according to the National Weather Service.

The warning is in effect until 10:00 p.m. in Newport News and Isle of Wight.

A Coastal Flood Advisory remains in effect for Mathews, Gloucester, James City County, and York County until 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

All areas are under a wind advisory until 6:00 p.m. Sunday with winds expected to be around 20-30 mph with gust up to 50 mph.

According to a news release from the City of Williamsburg, the 500 Block of Strawberry Plains Road is currently closed because of power lines on the road. A large tree fell across the lines near Berkeley Lane and Mill Neck Road. The roadway could be closed for 3-4 hours. 

Update 1:00 p.m.: A man in Hampton died early Sunday after going outside to check his home for storm damage, police said. 

Hampton police and fire responded to the first block of Sherry Dell Drive about 12:08 a.m. for a possible drowning, police said. When emergency crews arrived, they found an unresponsive man in standing water, police said.  

Medics on scene pronounced him dead. 

Hampton police said the death seems to be storm-related, but the official cause of death is still unknown. Police said the man's death is being investigated. 

All of Hampton Roads is still seeing power outages across the localities. 

Nearly 18,000 Hampton residents are still without power, only about 300 less than the totals at 8 a.m. Only 12,800 in Newport News are still out, down from nearly 19,000 a few hours ago, according to Dominion Power. 

There are 12,074 without power in James City County and 1,874 in Williamsburg. York County has 5,317 customers out and Poquoson has 1,138, according to Dominion. 

More than 700 are without power in Isle of Wight County and more than 400 in Surry. Southside has outages affecting nearly 150,000 people. 

Update 12:00 p.m.: The Coast Guard has closed the Port of Virginia for Sunday and possibly into Monday, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup with the 5th district.

According to a news release, the forecasted winds and waves for Sunday pose a risk to commercial vessels. The vessels are not allowed to enter or depart the Chesapeake Bay during the closure referred to as a Port Condition Zulu.

According to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, rainfall totals for the region as of 11:44 a.m. are as follows:

• Hampton: Langley 7.39 inches; Northampton 8.95 inches

• Newport News: Airport 6.42 inches; Denbigh 6.23 inches; Menchville 4.19 inches

• Poquoson: 3.85 inches

• Williamsburg: 5.51 inches

• Gloucester: Ark 5.14 inches; Selden 4.74 inches

• Isle of Wight: Smithfield 8.83 inches; Comet 8.70 inches; Carrsville: 8.22 inches; Benns Church 7.78 inches; Carrolton 6.68 inches

• Mathews: Port Haywood 6.61 inches; North 5.56 inches

• Middlesex: Stampers 5.27 inches

• York County: Tabb 7.59 inches; Grafton 4.90 inches; Oaktree 4.85 inches; Seaford 4.37 inches; York Terrace 1.77 inches

• James City County: Williamsburg 5.47 inches; Five Forks 4.96 inches; Lighfoot 4.09 inches

• Norfolk: Norfolk International Airport 9.40 inches; Norview 9.10 inches; Downtown 8.68 inches

• Virginia Beach: Sigma 11.70 inches; Callups Corner 9.97 inches; Sandbridge 9.88 inches; Princess Anne 9.23 inches.

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is open but "passengers should check with their airline before heading out," according to Jessica Wharton, a spokeswoman for the airport.

Most flights are currently on-time with one American Airlines flight cancelled, according to the airport's website. Flight updates are available at http://flyphf.com/flights/arrivals/.  

Update 11:00 a.m.: Road conditions in Mathews and Gloucester counties on the Middle Peninsula are continuing to improve, according to Kelly Hannon with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Crews patrolled roads overnight, Hannon said, responding to downed trees and flooding and are continuing to remove debris and trees from roadways this morning.

Route 198 in Mathews near Ebenezer Church Road and Route 660 were closed earlier Sunday morning for trees. Both roads should re-open shortly, Hannon said. No roads in Gloucester are currently closed, but crews are checking the county.

Residents can call 1-800-FOR-ROAD to report any hazards, Hannon said.

“We urge drivers to expect the unexpected today if they will be driving,” Hannon wrote in an email. “Drivers in low-lying areas in Mathews and Gloucester that traditionally experience coastal flooding during severe weather may find high water blocking portions of a road. Winds gusts, mixed with saturated soil, are anticipated to lead to downed trees and tree limbs today. VDOT is responding to remove these trees and re-open roads, but we ask drivers to stay alert for possible obstructions in the road ahead.”

About 1,086 Dominion Power customers were without power in Gloucester as of 11 a.m., and 303 customers in Mathews were without power — down from over 3,000 late last night.

According to the York County Sheriff's Office, the Pizza Shop in Yorktown has opened today on Route 17 to serve those without power if needed.

UPDATE 10 a.m. - Newport News police and staff responded to 141 storm-related calls for assistance between 6 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 a.m. Sunday, a city news release said.

Calls included flooding, downed power lines, downed trees, burglar alarms and traffic lights out.

Of the roughly 19,000 Newport News customers remaining without power, most of them live South of Mercury Boulevard, the release said.

Hampton received 10.2 inches of rain in the east-southern section of the city, while Langley Air Force Base received 8.9 inches and the Bethel area received 7.9 inches, a city news release said.

More than one quarter of the city — 18,247 customers — were without power at 8 a.m. Sunday, the release said.

Public Works crews responded to about 40 calls of downed trees blocking roads. The crews have cleared 33 of them, the 9 a.m. news release said. The rest of the trees involve power lines so crews are awaiting Dominion.

Most of the 40 people staying at the shelter at Phenix school are Paula Maria residents, the release said, while some are from Century Plaza and Waypoint.

More than three dozen roads were flooded in Hampton, starting at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the release said. 

Public Works crews are deploying generators to the 20 most critical intersections to operate traffic signals, the release said.

Hampton libraries are closed Sunday.

UPDATE 9 a.m. - The Virginia National Guard plans to send about 160 soldiers to Hampton Roads Sunday for flood response operations after heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Matthew pummeled the region overnight.

About 160 soldiers will be sent to the region with Humvees, light and medium-sized tactical trucks and chain saws to help with flood response operations, a news release said.

Several Hampton Roads localities requested the service, the release said. The Guard plan to use the vehicles to provide transportation through high water and the chainsaws to remove debris from roadways.

Guard soldiers were last staged in Hampton Roads last month, following Hurricane Hermine, which damaged the region less than Matthew.

The Virginia Living Museum will have a delayed opening today, at noon.

The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry Service has resumed, though the Pocahontas is the only boat running at this time, VDOT said.

More than 236,000 Hampton Roads Dominion Virginia Power customers remain without power.

The Newport News Golf Club at Deer Run is closed Sunday. 

UPDATE 8 a.m. - The flood warning for the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson and York and James City counties has been again extended, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service announced.

A flash flood watch remains in effect until 2 p.m. Sunday on the Peninsula, and a wind advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. 

Hampton Roads Transit services will remain suspended until at least noon Sunday.

The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry Service remains suspended until further notice, according to VDOT.

On the Southside, the City of Norfolk declared a local state of emergency and the City of Virginia Beach asked all residents to refrain from driving.

"The roads are dangerous and flooded," Virginia Beach Police Department said in a news release at 7:40 a.m. "There are many trees with live electrical wires down in the water, as well as abandoned and floating vehicles."

UPDATE 7 a.m. - A flash flood watch remains in effect until 2 p.m. Sunday on the Peninsula, according to a National Weather Service update.

"Moderate to heavy rainfall and excessive runoff will continue to increase the potential for flooding," the update said. "Many roads will likely remain or become impassable."

There is also a coastal flood advisory in place until 9 p.m. Sunday for areas of the Peninsula adjacent to the York River, the Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries.

The National Weather Service earlier this morning extended the Peninsula's flood warning to 8 a.m. for the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, and York and James City counties.

Lastly, a wind advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

More than 234,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers in Hampton Roads are now without power, the company reports. The increase is mostly in Virginia Beach, where more than 71,000 are without power.

UPDATE 6 a.m. - The rain has died down, as Matthew, now a post-tropical cyclone, moves east, but flooding is still a serious threat on the Peninsula.

Dominion Virginia Power reports more than 226,000 Hampton Roads customers are without power as of 6 a.m. Sunday.

Of those, more than 23,000 in Newport News, more than 15,000 in Hampton and and more than 69,000 in Virginia Beach are without power.

UPDATE 5 a.m. - The National Weather Service has extended the Peninsula's flood warning to 8 a.m. for the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, and York and James City counties.

As of 4:02 a.m., a total of five to eight inches of rain have fallen on the region, the National Weather Service in Wakefield reported.

"Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated excessive rain has fallen over the area," the advisory said. "The heavy rain is causing extensive and life threatening flooding."

The National Weather Service has also issued a coastal flood advisory until 9 p.m. Sunday for areas of the Peninsula adjacent to the York River, the Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries.

That advisory is in effect on either side of high tide. High tide was at 3:09 a.m. and the next high tide is scheduled for 3:38 p.m.

A wind advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

At about 5 a.m., the National Hurricane Center downgraded Matthew from a Category 1 hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone as it continued to move east, near the Outer Banks.

UPDATE 4 a.m. - Dominion Power reports more than 216,869 customers are without power in Hampton Roads as storms stronger than predicted battered the region. 

In Newport News, more than 23,000 are without power, the highest total for any locality in the greater Peninsula area. About 14,000 in Hampton have lost electricity.

Additionally, about 1,700 are without power in Gloucester and Mathews County.

Virginia Beach is experiencing the most outages in Hampton Roads with about 68,000 without electricity.

Power company officials did not have an estimate as to when power would be restored to customers. Wind, flooding and tree limb damage to power lines are complicating the restoration process, according to an update from Dominion Virginia Power Saturday evening.

The city of Hampton evacuated several residents from Paula Maria apartments, near Newmarket Creek Saturday evening, as it began flooding, the city said in a news release.

The city opened a shelter at Phenix School on Big Bethel Road, where at least 40 are seeking shelter, the news release said.

At least 8 inches of rain has fallen on east-central Hampton so far, the release said, with wind gusts reaching up to 52 miles per hour at Langley Air Force Base.

More tidal flooding is still to come -- high tide was Sunday at 3:09 a.m. and the next one is scheduled at 3:38 p.m.

The National Weather Service office in Wakefield was reporting Saturday evening that as of 8:30 p.m., areas around the region had seen between four and seven inches of rain, with as much as five more inches expected before the night is through. 

Originially, NWS predictions for total rainfall were between three and five inches. 

Flash flood watches issued by the National Weather Service for all of Hampton Roads and the Middle Peninsula will continue through Sunday afternoon. There is also a flood warning in effect for Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, York County and the southeastern portion of James City County until 6 a.m.

On social media, many local residents were reporting flooding Saturday evening. Cindy Velez, a Fox Hill resident, said on NextDoor several roads in the low-lying Hampton neighborhood were impassable.

The city of Hampton reported that more than two dozen roads were flooded by 8:45 p.m. Saturday throughout the city, including in the Coliseum Central, Phoebus, Fox Hill, Newmarket Creek and downtown areas. 

Hurricane Matthew continued to drench Hampton Roads with heavy, pounding rain that has lasted for more than two hours.

As Matthew raked the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, it didn't make landfall until Saturday, just southeast of the town of McClellanville, South Carolina.

After moving through North Carolina, the storm was expected to veer out to sea and loop back around toward the Bahamas, though as a much-weakened storm.

When it does, Hurricane Matthew will hit North Carolina's coast again, hitting almost every beach area in the state

UPDATE: 7:35 p.m. - Winds in the Peninsula Saturday afternoon reached 35 to 50 miles per hour, with isolated pockets of up to 55 mph through the night, due to Hurricane Matthew, meteorologist Bridget De Rosa told the Daily Press Saturday evening.

Hampton Roads is expected to see between 5 and 7 inches of rain within the next 24 hours, and minor flooding in coastal areas around Langley, Hampton, Portsmouth and Norfolk, according to the National Weather Service.

Emergency dispatch centers in Hampton and Newport News reported multiple flooded streets, with some areas completely impassable.

Officials advised drivers to stay off roads. The area remains under a flash-flood watch and a wind advisory, according to the weather agency.

While thousands are without power in Hampton Roads, three-quarters of a million people in South Carolina were left without electricity, and 250,000 were in the dark in coastal Georgia.

About 1 million people in Florida lost power.

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m. - Dominion Power is reporting more than 20,000 customers without power in Hampton Roads, according to its website. 

Roughly half of those customers are in the region that includes Hampton Roads, with more than 4,700 customers without power in Hampton in the area of Big Bethel Road, the map showed. 

More than 10,400 customers were without power in Newport News, the outage map showed. Dominion Power spokeswoman Bonita Harris said she's trying to get information on the extent of the outages and restoration times.

Around 6:45 p.m., members of Hampton Fire and Rescue were near Hampton Center Parkway, in the area of Magruder Boulevard, removing a downed tree from the roadway. 

On their Twitter account, Hampton Police urged drivers to off roads as many were flooded, and noted four traffic crashes in 30 minutes during the heavy rains Saturday evening. 

UPDATE: 5:39 p.m. - At least a couple of dozen people are stranded on Interstate 95 after their vehicles got caught on a stretch of road between two parts of the flooded highway.

North Carolina Highway Patrol Troopers are working to help 25 vehicles. The Department of Public Safety said Saturday that the vehicles were stuck but didn't offer further details. It said the motorists were near Wilson.

Elsewhere, the Department of Transportation has closed stretches of Interstate 95 and parts of Interstate 40 after Hurricane Matthew drenched the state.

UPDATE: 4:34 p.m. - Both Hampton and Newport News reported flooding on routes Saturday afternoon as heavy rain from Hurricane Matthew continued to pound Hampton Roads. 

In Hampton, the 400 block of East Mercury Boulevard and North Curry Street had some flooding, according to its emergency dispatch center.

In Newport News, the area of 28th Street and Huntington Avenue was flooding, according to its emergency dispatch center.  

An anti-bullying event, 1000 Youth March, scheduled Sunday has been postponed, according to a news release. The Mayor’s Initiative to End Bullying in Newport News event will be held next from 2 to 5 p.m. on October 16 at Todd Stadium, the release states. 

A joint assessment team from the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Friday afternoon as part of a disaster relief/humanitarian assistance mission, according to a news release. 

Additional soldiers from the 689th could be on their way to Haiti soon to assist in the mission, officials said in the release.

The hurricane was blamed for at least 10 deaths in the U.S., including that of a 68-year-old Georgia man who died when two trees fell on his home. And hundreds were left dead in Matthew's wake in Haiti.

But in many places along the Southeast coast, the damage consisted mostly of flooded streets, 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."

On Saturday, Matthew sideswiped two of the South's oldest and most historic cities — Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina — and also brought torrential rain and stiff wind to places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina.

UPDATE: 3:17 p.m. - Hampton Roads continues to be pounded with rain, with a heavy downpour being reported in several areas on the Peninsula, the National Weather Service reported. 

Between three to four inches of rain is expected to fall across Hampton Roads in the next 24 hours, a meteorologist at the Wakefield office said.

A flash-flood watch is also in place for much of Hampton Roads until Oct. 9, the weather agency reports.  

Five new deaths have been reported in the Southeast in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. That brings the death toll in the United States from the storm to nine.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Saturday that the hurricane killed three people in North Carolina.

McCrory said at a press conference that "this is a very, very serious and deadly storm."

In Georgia, Bulloch County deputy coroner Richard Pylant said two people died there. One of the casualties was a man in a wheelchair who died when two trees fell on his home.

Officials have previously reported four deaths in Florida.

UPDATE: 2:22 p.m. - Newport News and Hampton were sprinkled with sporadic rain showers. 

Emergency dispatches reported no flooding at this time. 

Hurricane Matthew continued on its path without change, according to the National Weather Service

North Carolina officials say emergency responders have conducted eight water rescues from cars and homes in Cumberland County. More are expected as the threat from Hurricane Matthew increases.

The National Weather Service said 8.5 inches of rain have fallen in Fayetteville in about 12 hours, starting a midnight. The ground there was already saturated from heavy rains last week.

UPDATE:12:30 p.m. - Property data firm CoreLogic projects that Hurricane Matthew's grind across the Southeast will end up costing between $4 billion and $6 billion in insured losses on residential and commercial properties.

The firm's estimate covers storm surge and wind damage, which it anticipates will account for 90 percent of insurance claims related to the storm. CoreLogic's estimate doesn't include insured property losses related to additional flooding, business interruption or other factors.

The firm also projects that the hurricane will end up damaging roughly 1.5 million residential and commercial properties in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Hurricane Matthew's estimated losses are a fraction of those racked up by Superstorm Sandy, which barreled into the Northeast in 2012, and Hurricane Katrina, which swept through Louisiana and nearby states in 2005.

CoreLogic says Superstorm Sandy's insured property losses reached up to $20 billion, while Katrina's hit as high as $40 billion.

UPDATE: 9:15 a.m. - Hurricane Matthew has weakened to a Category 1 storm but still remains a threat to the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Saturday morning that Matthew was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

Its maximum sustained winds have dropped to 85 mph (140 kph), with hurricane-force winds extending up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the center.

Matthew's strong winds and storm surge were battering the South Carolina coast early Saturday, and heavy rain and high winds were spreading inland. The storm's center is expected to be near the coast of southern North Carolina by Saturday night.

On and around the Peninsula, a flash flood watch, coastal flood watch and weather advisory remain in effect until Sunday afternoon.

The rain is expected to continue and worsen throughout the day, with up to 8 inches of rain falling overnight.

Expect sustained winds of 25-35 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. 

The rain is expected to end by midday Sunday, but 25-35 mph winds are expected to continue until Sunday night. 

Dominion Virginia Power has reported only a handful of outages in southeast Virginia, most of them in Chesapeake. 

Earlier:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Some of the South's most historic cities faced the weakening but still powerful Hurricane Matthew as it plowed north along the Atlantic coast, flooding towns and gouging out roads in its path.

The storm killed at least four people in Florida and knocked out power to more than 1 million homes and businesses, even though its strongest winds stayed just offshore.

Matthew was making itself felt in South Carolina Saturday morning. Hurricane-force winds were moving onshore at Hilton Head and Pritchards Island, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center reported. At least one wind gust of 61 mph (98 kph) was recorded at Beaufort, South Carolina.

In southeast Virginia, the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, a coastal flood watch and a flash flood watch extending into Sunday afternoon.

The rain was beginning in Hampton Roads early Saturday morning and expected to continue and worsen through the day. Three to six inches of rain are expected in Newport News, Hampton and the greater Peninsula area.

More than 150,000 electric customers in South Carolina — most in Beaufort and the Charleston area — were without power Saturday morning.

The Category 2 hurricane will near North Carolina's southern coast by Saturday night, the center says.

"Now is the time we ask for prayer," Gov. Nikki Haley said as she finished an update on storm preparations and bowed her head.

Matthew — the most powerful hurricane to threaten the Atlantic Seaboard in more than a decade — set off alarms as it closed in on the U.S., having left at least 300 people dead in Haiti.

In the end, it brushed the heavily populated areas of Florida and raked the Georgia coast, including some of the state's islands such as St. Simons and Tybee.

Steve Todd defied orders to evacuate Tybee even after the mayor called and pleaded with him to leave. As conditions rapidly deteriorated Friday night, Todd wasn't sounding quite so bold.

"I'm not regretting staying," Todd said by phone. "But I'm not going to lie: There's a little bit of nervous tension right now."

Todd said he was staying with friends at a third-story condo, which had lost electricity.

"It's throwing down right now," Todd said. "The trees are bending over. We saw a bush fly by. It's raining sideways now."

In Florida, the storm gouged out several large sections of the coastal A1A highway north of Daytona Beach and had nearly completely washed out the northbound lane for about a mile at Flagler Beach.

"It's pretty bad; it's jagged all over the place," said Oliver Shields, whose two-story house is within sight of the highway.

The deaths in Florida included an elderly St. Lucie County couple who died from carbon monoxide fumes while running a generator in their garage and two women who were killed in separate events when trees fell on a home and a camper.

About 500,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Jacksonville area, along with another half-million on the Georgia coast. More than 300,000 fled their homes in South Carolina. The latest forecast showed the storm could also scrape the North Carolina coast.

"We have been very fortunate that Matthew's strongest winds have remained a short distance offshore of the Florida and Georgia coasts thus far, but this should not be a reason to let down our guard," the Hurricane Center said in a forecast discussion.

St. Augustine, which is the nation's oldest permanently occupied European settlement and includes a 17th-century Spanish fortress and many historic homes turned into bed-and-breakfasts, was awash in rain and gray seawater that authorities said could top 8 feet.

"It's a really serious devastating situation," Mayor Nancy Shaver said of the city of 14,000. "The flooding is just going to get higher and higher and higher."

Historic downtown Charleston, usually bustling with tourists, was eerily quiet, with many stores and shops boarded up with plywood and protected by stacks of sandbags.

The city announced a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew Saturday, about the time the coast was expected to take the brunt of the storm.

Matthew lashed Savannah, a city that was settled in 1733 and has a handsome historic district of moss-draped trees, brick and cobblestone streets, Greek Revival mansions and other 18th- and 19th-century homes.

Matthew was expected to bring winds of 50 to 60 mph that could snap branches from the burly live oaks and damage the historic homes. And 8 to 14 inches of rain could bring some street flooding. The extent of the damage wasn't clear early Saturday.

A small crew of workers Thursday set out to button up the Owens-Thomas house, one of Savannah's architectural gems. The 1819 Greek Revival mansion serves as a museum.

Sonja Wallen, a curator, said antique rugs and furniture were moved away from the home's more than 40 windows, many of them still with their original glass. Windows were fitted with plywood and other coverings, while sandbags were stacked at the basement entrance.

"It's basically a lot of little details — sandbags and duct tape around doorways where water can get in," Wallen said. "It's pretty much the same stuff you would do for any home."

At 5 a.m. EDT, Matthew had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph), and was centered about 20 miles (130 km) southeast of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was moving north about 12 mph (19 kph).

Airlines canceled at least 5,000 flights Wednesday through Saturday, including many in and out of Orlando, where all three of the resort city's world-famous theme parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — closed because of the storm.

But things began getting back to normal, with flights resuming in Miami and other South Florida airports. And power companies in Florida promised that electricity would be almost fully restored by the end of the weekend.

In areas the storm had already passed, residents and officials began to assess the damage.

Robert Tyler had feared the storm surge would flood his street two blocks from the Cape Canaveral beach. Tree branches fell, he could hear transformers exploding overnight, and the windows seemed as if they were about to blow in, despite the plywood over them.

But in the morning, there wasn't much water, his home didn't appear to be damaged on first inspection, and his vehicles were unharmed.

"Overnight, it was scary as heck," Tyler said. "That description of a freight train is pretty accurate."

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