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In Florida, cleanup begins after Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone after causing a trail of damage from Florida to North Carolina over the weekend, though it continues to flood the East Coast. At least 19 people in the U.S. have died as a result of the storm. The NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan visited residents of St. Augustine, Florida, to assess the damage.

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  • WILLIAM BRANGHAM, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    Matthew first hit the U.S. Thursday night, in Florida. The worst flooding there occurred in the Jacksonville metro area. A half hour's drive south of Jacksonville, "NewsHour Weekend's" Hari Sreenivasan visited residents of one of America's oldest cities, St. Augustine, to assess the damage.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN, NEWSHOUR WEEKEND:

    That's about three feet, four feet?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Three feet.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    Tamara Wilhelm (ph) of Vilano Beach, Florida, thought placing her valuables a foot off the floor would keep them safe. But the storm surge from Hurricane Matthew became much higher.

    You can see the water line right across your fireplace.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes, you can. Yes, you can.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    So this smell is going to turn into mold?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes, it will,

  • SREENIVASAN:

    Which is your couches, which is your carpets, your rugs, everything?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    It's got to be replaced?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes, yes, it does. As you can see.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    In her home of 18 years, the carpets are squishy beneath her feet now, and the sunken sun room was submerged by water. Wilhelm says she even found dead fish that had made their way in from the Atlantic Ocean.

    The inlet came into your house?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes, it did, it did. I'm trying not to cry.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    It's a gorgeous place.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes, it is. And we will rebuild. And we will brush it off and it will work.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    It's going to take a lot of time to clean everything up, but —

  • SREENIVASAN:

    A few miles away, Matthias Herzog (ph) is already in full recovery mode at his house, which faces the Matanzas River.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    That's the view I have when I decided to live here, taking the risk of hurricanes. They say it's not going to happen, every hundred year, and it happened.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    That view now includes a boat that did not survive the storm unscathed.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    That was my boat, or still is.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    So, was it up on —

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    Oh, yeah. I tied it up with these super tight. You know, it lifted it up, it was like this height, but —

  • SREENIVASAN:

    Herzog's boat fared better than one two blocks away that the hurricane picked up and dumped on a dead end street.

    At Cap's on the Water restaurant, Leah Attebery's (ph) customers used to be able to sail in from the Tolomato River. But now, the dock is now gone. The storm surge caused heavy kitchen equipment to float all over and snapped lights bolted into the ground. Attebery says the restaurant used to be able serve more than 1,000 people a night.

    How many people does this place employ?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    I'd say over a hundred.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    So, for a couple of weeks, a hundred people aren't getting a paycheck?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    Yes.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    What about all the food that you get in?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    We'll have to either postpone our orders —

  • SREENIVASAN:

    So, that means all the people who supply you, they don't have business for two weeks?

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:

    No.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    How the region moves forward is on the mind of Mike Wanchick (ph).

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    You're looking at a county that is one of the top ten fastest growing counties in the United States.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    We met Wanchick at the emergency operations center that coordinated the local response to the hurricane. How do you build resilience and capacity for a region to handle things like this in the future?

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

    I think, ironically, storms like this do exactly that. They make people have a greater understanding for building codes and governmental procedures, and regulations and why they're in place.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    The rebuilding due to Matthew's devastation, county by county, state by state, could take years.

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