‘We’re on top of this storm’: McAuliffe addresses Hurricane Matthew damage

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a news conference Thursday addressed the damage and devastation left behind in Hampton Roads from Hurricane Matthew.

The powerful storm ripped through Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina last weekend, causing widespread flooding and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Flanked by several mayors from across Hampton Roads, McAuliffe said Thursday that he is planning to send a letter to President Barack Obama “early next week or middle of next,” requesting FEMA assistance.

Shore Drive in Virginia Beach is flooded near the entrance to First Landing State Park on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Credit: WAVY/Bill Cole
Shore Drive in Virginia Beach is flooded near the entrance to First Landing State Park on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Credit: WAVY/Bill Cole

“We clearly have met the threshold of $11 million,” McAuliffe said. “I think right now in Virginia Beach alone, we’re over $25 million.”

Official damage totals across the region have yet to be determined, although initial estimates are beginning to be released. The City of Hampton on Thursday said its initial assessments report damages of $1.86 million.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that state-maintained roads suffered $2 million in damages.

Dominion Virginia Power said Thursday morning that power had been restored to all but 900 people affected by the storm. Some communities around Hampton Roads remain flooded, more than four days after Matthew left the region.

Thursday’s news conference was McAuliffe’s first regarding Hurricane Matthew since the storm hit the region. McAuliffe declared a state of emergency last Thursday so that Virginia could support relief efforts in every state affected by Matthew.

Several local cities declared states of emergency Sunday, during the height of the storm’s impact. The governor said Thursday that he plans on touring some of the areas that were hard-hit by Matthew.

“This was a very unique event,” McAuliffe said. “It’s going to take time. Many of these homes are totally destroyed, and that’s why we’re going to take a tour today … to see what we need to do.”

“It has never flooded past the tree,” said Virginia Beach storm victim Christine Dosmann.

This time was different. The water didn’t stop at the tree, but kept rising right into Dosmann’s home.

“To walk down your street and to see water from door to door, down your street, is just something you don’t expect to see,” Dosmann added.

Dosmann wasn’t alone. A drive through her Windsor Woods neighborhood has sidewalks and curbs overflowing with ruined belongings.

“You almost got to see it to believe it,” McAuliffe said.

The governor toured Dosmann’s neighborhood to see the devastation firsthand.

“It’s just incredible,” McAuliffe said. “It came so fast. 17 inches in rain. That’s why were are here. We want to everything we can, as fast as we can, to get them the aid that they need.”

Officials say 2,000 structures were damaged in Virginia Beach alone. 600 of them were homes — an estimated $15 million in damage. Those estimates are expected to rise.

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