CHARLESTON, S.C. (FOX 13) - There was a positive and supportive attitude in the nation's oldest city, even in the face of tremendous damage from Hurricane Matthew.
As power slowly trickled on Saturday morning in St. Augustine, business owners and neighbors were finally able to reach their properties.
“The studio is carpeted and there were a couple of roof leaks and some water that came in through the back door. So we're just trying to mop up,” Gayle Gallagher told FOX 13 News.
Gallagher's barre fitness studio was relatively spared, but the city saw scattered, yet serious damage after dangerous winds and storm surge rushed from the Matanzas River toward the historic portion of the city.
The surge covered Avenida Menedez in feet of water and pushed inside the Casablanca Inn, leaving workers and families temporarily trapped inside.
Water also flowed furiously through buildings at Flagler College. When it receded, there was a path of obliterated planters and fences, and uprooted trees – once falling just inches from a home.
“Entirely lucky, right? And if it was another 15 feet tall, it would have taken out all these community lines. So very fortunate,” Brandon Bartels said while realizing what damage could have been caused by the tree.
Bridges to the barrier island were shut down by the National Guard while they were inspected. Saturday, many homeowners were still unable to reach homes where beach erosion is significant.
People say in the days ahead, St. Augustine will come together.
“Everybody's willing to pitch in and help each other get back to where they need to be. I'm friends with a lot of other business owners in town and after we leave here, I'm gonna see what we can do to help them too,” Gallagher said.