FOLLY BEACH, S.C. – Civil War-era cannonballs have been detonated in South Carolina after Hurricane Matthew uncovered the old military ordnance in Folly Beach.
A local resident came across the cannonballs while walking on the beach on Sunday morning, Chief Andrew Gilreath, Director of Public Safety, told CNN.
“You can see the fuse holes in the balls,” he said.
Erosion caused by the storm unearthed the ordnance in a non-residential area, Gilreath said, and Charleston County and Air Force explosives teams were called to the scene.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said that the US Air Force Explosive Team detonated a number of the ordnance where they were found. A small number were to be taken to a navy base for destruction, the sheriff’s office said on Twitter.
Matthew, the deadly storm that has wreaked havoc from the Caribbean to the Carolinas, has moved away from the East Coast but the storm will continue to take a toll on the southeastern United States.
Forecasters expect Matthew to die out in the Atlantic Ocean within the next 48 hours, meaning it won’t have a chance to loop back and hit land again as some had predicted.
The region, which has seen at least 17 deaths across four states and power to over 2 million homes knocked out, will likely continue to feel the storm’s devastating impact.
In North Carolina, rising waters have damaged hundreds of buildings, forced thousands into emergency shelters, and left nearly 600,000 customers without electricity headed into Monday.
Officials are now preparing for rivers to top their banks, believing heavy rains — aided by wind-driven storm surges of up to six feet — could lead to flooding on a level unseen since Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.
Meanwhile, Haitians in the areas worst hit by Hurricane Matthew are desperately awaiting assistance six days after the storm, as concerns grow about potential cholera outbreaks.
Vince DeGennaro, a Port-au-Prince-based doctor who’s the medical director for the country’s only medical emergency helicopter program, has been flying medical relief flights into towns along Haiti’s devastated southwest coast in the aftermath of the storm.
“These towns on the southwestern coast, it’s near total destruction. Just about every building was knocked down, even concrete ones,” he said. “It’s quite frightening to see from the air.”
On Sunday, he flew into the town of Roche-a-Bateau, where he said 90% of the buildings had been destroyed by the storm, including the concrete school and church buildings, leaving the residents with no shelter.
“People are just sleeping outside and that leads to all sorts of problems with disease,” he told CNN.
In those conditions, he said, the threat of a cholera outbreak was a “huge concern.”
The disease, which is spread through water or food contaminated Vibrio cholerae bacteria, can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to extreme dehydration. It can swiftly result in outbreaks, and patients who are not treated quickly can die within hours.
Cholera cases have been reported in Randel, in southwestern Haiti, UNICEF reported in a situation update Monday, while DeGennaro said there had been dozens of cholera deaths in the southwestern town of Port-a-Piment.
“For cholera, every one person who has it tends to infect two or three people, so it’s frightening,” he said.
A cholera epidemic killed at least 10,000 people in Haiti when it was accidentally introduced by UN peacekeepers following the 2010 earthquake.