Hundreds came together this weekend in Flagler Beach to help the community continue clean-up efforts more than a week after Hurricane Matthew.

  • Nearly 200 volunteers came out at sunrise to help
  • Beach still closed
  • Flagler Beach mayor hopes portions of the beach will re-open this week

Resident Patti Powell has volunteered at Flagler Beach cleanups before, but she's never cleaned a mess like what she saw at the beach on Sunday.

"Because of the extent of the damage, there are no words really," said Powell, a 17 year resident of the area.

Hurricane Matthew washed away part of the pier, destroyed beach walkovers, and left wood all over the beach. As the sun rose above the beach Sunday morning, nearly 200 volunteers from all across the county got to work to clean it up.

The volunteers included city staff, firefighters from both Flagler Beach and Palm Coast, county workers, and the general community.

Many of the volunteers were seeing the extent of the damage up close for the first time.

"This is the first look at it, piled up," said Powell, referring to debris packed into large garbage bins, including nails and pieces of wood that were removed from the beach.
"It's important to let the visitors know as well as the residents that they can get safely down on the beach and not step on a board with nails," said Flagler County Commission Chair Barbara Revels.

Parts of A1A washed out by the storm are also a concern for the city, as pieces of the roadway have begun coming to shore.
"It's heartbreaking, the damage that's been done to A1A and I think everybody is eager to get everything back to normal,"said Flagler County School Board member Colleen Conklin.
It’s going to take community members like Powell continuing to help out in order to bring back the area's once-pristine beach.

"I know that it'll be a long haul and I'm here for the long haul," said Powell. "It's home, I love it, and we will be back."

Flagler Beach Mayor Linda Provencher issued a reminder to residents that the beach is still closed. The goal, however, is to get at least a portion of it open by the middle of the week.

City leaders plan to check daily to see if it’s safe for beach goers. Businesses and stores in the area, meanwhile, have re-opened.