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'We Still Have Dangers Ahead.' Matthew's Effects to Be Felt for Months


FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. -- Hurricane Matthew may be gone now, but its effects will be felt for months. The storm unleashed devastating winds and flooding, killing hundreds of people from the Carolinas to the Caribbean.

Now people in Florida and all along the coast are trying to clean up the trail of destruction left by the massive storm.

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Palm Coast, Florida, resident Vanessa Gwyn wanted to be in church Sunday, eager to give thanks that she and her family survived the storm.

"You really have to thank God because it could have been a lot worse," she said.

The Gwyn family also escaped relatively unscathed. Although downed trees and scattered debris surrounded their home, they found the house intact. The only casualty? Blinds on the back porch.

Palm Coast residents Deborah Portee-Fields and Talitha Portee found a toppled tree on their roof.

"What goes through your mind knowing, first of all, the storm could have been worse. And secondly, the damage to your home could have been worse than what it is? Well, it lets us know that God is in control," Portee-Fields said.

"I'm just so grateful and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was only God," Portee added.

Others weren't as fortunate. Matthew washed ashore at a strong Category 4, downing power lines, uprooting trees, and ripping off roofs. Majid Khan spent a day cleaning up the aluminum canopy from his convenience store.

"It was blown over. It was all over the road," he said. "Other than that, we are very thankful to God and we made it okay."

The Floridians CBN News spoke with all acknowledge that, for the most part, they dodged a bullet.

Still, stretches of the Florida coast sustained significant damage, like Highway A1A. Parts of the scenic road caved in, while other parts were washed away by ocean water. Officials estimate the damages could end up making Matthew one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.

Floodwaters also besieged communities in Georgia and South Carolina. In North Carolina, Matthew's storm surge triggered historic flooding that proved deadly.

"Water can kill and that's exactly what happened, sadly, in North Carolina. And we still have dangers ahead of us," Gov. Pat McCrory warned.

Thousands had to be rescued, more than 600 in Fayetteville alone. Video shows the dramatic efforts to save a mother and her toddler, who clung to a car as rising water closed in.

In Virginia, hundreds of thousands lost power and the governor called in the National Guard to assist with flooding.

The worst devastation, however, undoubtedly came in Haiti where estimates of the death toll are around a thousand and counting. Now there are growing concerns of a cholera outbreak.

CBN's Operation Blessing is on the ground handing out chlorine, needed to provide safe drinking water and prevent water-borne diseases like cholera. The aid organization also has teams on the ground in Fayetteville.

Meanwhile, Florida Pastor Derrick Jackson, whose own home is without electricity, helped serve others who rode out the storm in area shelters. He says events like these can open the door to share the Gospel.

"As Christians we take advantage of the opportunities to connect with people we normally wouldn't get to connect with, and they connect with the love of Jesus Christ and think, 'Someone cares about me,'" he said.

It's a simple act that goes a long way in times like these.

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