Gov. Rick Scott visited Flagler Beach Monday to tour damage caused by the hurricane. Scott also met with Florida National Guard members, Florida Power & Light utility linemen and volunteers. (Photo courtesy of Scott's office)   

After Matthew, Flagler County Begins Road To Recovery

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Flagler County, one of the hardest hit in Florida by Hurricane Matthew, is moving forward with its recovery efforts.

By Monday, it had lifted its evacuation orders, restored power for most residents and was looking into funding for road repairs. Meanwhile, those in need were receiving free food and water.

Monday saw power outages down to 27 percent of county residents, and as of noon today, that number dropped to only 3 percent, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

And with all evacuation orders lifted, most residents along Flagler Beach and throughout Palm Coast have returned to their homes.

Cayla Moses, 25, a Flagler County resident who lives on Florida State Road A1A, said she returned home with her husband and baby Sunday after staying with family in Daytona for the hurricane.

“By the time we came back, there was power,” she said. “Not everybody had it, though.”

Moses said this was the first strong hurricane she has experienced in almost six years. She was worried the market she runs in front of her house would lose business because of Matthew, but the influx of traffic from people curious to see the beach post-storm has resulted in an uptick.

“Everyone is flocking to see it,” she said of Flagler Beach, which remained covered in debris on Monday. “It’s crazy, it’s wild, it’s surreal, it’s sad. Everybody is just so interested to see it.”

Carla Clien, a partner at the Island Grille inside the Topaz Motel along the closed-off area of State Road A1A, also shared a note of positivity.

“We’re going to lose out on major events, like bike week and whatnot,” she said of Daytona’s Biketoberfest, which is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday. “But honestly, I’m trying to think positive, and I think it might help.”

The restaurant had minor roof damage and a broken Plexiglas panel, Clien said.

Parts of State Road A1A were washed away by Matthew’s strong storm surge.

While the bridges leading from the mainland to the barrier island were fully reopened to the public as of Monday morning, the county’s beaches remained closed because pieces of a pier had washed up on shore and parts of A1A had fallen onto the beach.

“We are concerned for everyone’s safety,” Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said in a news release. “We are worried that portions of the roadway may still wash away.”

While most residents stayed away from the closed beaches, a couple of surfers took advantage of the continuing high rip current and tide and headed into the ocean near the Funky Pelican restaurant.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was among those visiting Flagler Beach Monday morning to tour the damages and meet with Florida National Guard members, Florida Power & Light Company utility linemen and volunteers.

As of Sunday, President Barack Obama had made Florida eligible for disaster aid in eight counties as the state continues to recover from the impact of Hurricane Matthew, according to the News Service of Florida.

The Salvation Army was aiding county residents Monday through a meal center on the corner of South Central Avenue and Moody Boulevard. Several free items were offered, including water, lemonade, sloppy joes, chips and fruit cocktails.

A distribution center was also opened at the Flagler County Airport, with free bottled water and food offered there.

On Sunday and Monday, the Palm Coast Branch Library offered supplies, too, including bottled water and dry foods.

Graca De Oliveira, who works at the Halifax Humane Society, was awaiting supplies at the library Monday with her niece to take to her own home. But while waiting, she helped distribute them to others in need.

“The [meals, ready to eat] were the first to go, which is the dried foods,” she said. “Within 10 minutes, they were gone.”

The library returned to its normal hours today. Classes at the county’s public schools resumed on Wednesday. The district will use a previously planned Teacher Work Day on Friday as a hurricane make-up day.

*This story has been updated to correct a previous version that stated classes resume on Friday.  

About Carolina Lafuente

Carolina is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.

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