Matthew triggers severe flooding in NC, US death toll at 16
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP): HURRICANE MATTHEW’S torrential rains triggered severe flooding in North Carolina on Sunday as the deteriorating storm made its exit to the sea and thousands of people had to be rescued from their homes and cars. The death toll in the United States climbed to at least 16, nearly half of them in North Carolina.
The storm, which killed more than 500 in Haiti before it pounded the East Coast for days, was stripped of hurricane status just before daybreak, but the crisis – set off by downpours of more than a foot – was far from over.
“As the sun rises in North Carolina and the blue sky returns, our state is facing major destruction and, sadly, loss of life,” Governor Pat McCrory said as the effects of Saturday’s deluge became clearer at daylight.
Rivers and creeks overflowed, driving people from their homes and trapping others as much as 100 miles inland. The unofficial rainfall totals were staggering: 18 inches in Wilmington, 14 inches in Fayetteville, and 8 inches in Raleigh.
McCrory said police and emergency crews had made more than 880 water rescues. In the Fayetteville area alone, rescue crews saved nearly 600 people from the rapidly rising floodwaters, officials said.
The governor said that four people were missing in the Fayetteville area and that the full scale of the disaster was not yet known because the flooding continued overnight and there were many places that search teams had not yet reached.
“There could be some backroads where we had people swept away. I’m praying that is not going to be,” McCrory said.
Most of the deaths happened when vehicles were swept away by floodwaters.
About 100 guests and workers had to be evacuated from a Comfort Inn motel in the North Carolina coastal town of Southport after the hurricane cracked a wall and left the roof in danger of collapse, authorities said. And dramatic video showed Fayetteville police rescuing a woman and her small child from their car as rising waters swallowed it.
Shortly before daybreak, the hurricane was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the storm was centred about 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving out to sea. It still had hurricaneforce winds of 75 mph.
Forecasters said North Carolina and Virginia could get even more rain and warned of the danger of life-threatening flooding through Monday night. File Residents Julia Schittko and Nathan Ogdon walk along flooded Water Street in Wilmington, North Carolina, yesterday as Hurricane Matthew moved into the Carolinas.
“Stay home. Most of your ordered to evacuate their homes as church services have been Matthew closed in. By hugging cancelled. There’s no reason to go the coast, the storm behaved out. Take the day off,” Fayetteville pretty much as forecasters Mayor Nat Robertson said. predicted. A shift of just 20 or 30
Matthew killed more than 500 miles could have meant people in Haiti last week, plowing widespread devastation. into the desperately poor country While Matthew’s wind speed at 145 mph. The fearsome storm had dropped considerably by the then sideswiped hundreds of miles time it hit the Southeast coast, the of the US coastline from Florida storm will rank as one of the most through Georgia and the powerful hurricanes on record, Carolinas, its eye staying far based on such factors as wind enough offshore that the damage energy and longevity, and as one in many places was relatively of the most long-lived major modest, consisting mostly of hurricanes, too. flooded streets, flattened trees and Three-quarters of a million blown-down signs and awnings. people lost power in North
Up until Saturday night and Carolina, according to the Sunday morning, it appeared that governor, along with a similar the US might pull through without number in South Carolina, the catastrophic damage that 250,000 in Georgia, and about 1 forecasters said was possible. million in Florida. Many people counted themselves In addition to the seven lucky. deaths in North Carolina, there
Along the main drag in were four in Florida, three in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Georgia and two in South Silver Diner had all of its shiny Carolina, where a 66-year-old metal siding ripped off the front man was found outside his and sides, leaving only a wood nursing home in Columbia, frame exposed. Next door, the pinned beneath his electric window of a souvenir shop had wheelchair and face-down in been blown out and the roof and standing water from the rains, a ceiling torn through, leaving pink coroner said. Some people were insulation dangling. killed by falling trees, others by
David Beasley, president of carbon monoxide fumes from a Insurance Recovery Inc., surveyed generator. the damage and said that although Property data firm it looked bad, the main strip was CoreLogic projected that hit harder by Hurricanes Charley insured losses on home and and Frances in 2004. commercial properties would
“This is not much compared to amount to $4 billion to $6 those two,” he said. billion, well below Hurricane
An estimated two million Katrina’s $40 billion and people in the Southeast were Superstorm Sandy’s $20 billion.