U.S. death toll swells to 18 in the South­east

Hur­ri­cane leaves its wa­tery mark on soggy N. Carolina

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Martha Wag­goner and Allen Breed

FAYET­TEVILLE, N.C. — When Hur­ri­cane Matthew dumped tor­ren­tial rains on North Carolina, thou­sands of peo­ple found them­selves trapped in homes and cars.

Res­cuers in Coast Guard he­li­copters plucked some of them from rooftops and used mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles to reach oth­ers, in­clud­ing a woman who held onto a tree for three hours af­ter her car was over­run by flood waters.

In an­other res­cue, a woman with her small child perched on the roof of her car had to be helped to safety as the waters rose around them, un­der­scor­ing how quickly Matthew wreaked havoc 100 miles or more in­land af­ter spar­ing much of the South­east­ern coast the cat­a­strophic dam­age once feared.

The storm killed more than 500 peo­ple in Haiti and at least 18 in the U.S. — nearly half of them in North Carolina. Most were swept away by flood­wa­ters.

Gov. Pat McCrory said author­i­ties were search­ing for five peo­ple and feared they may find more vic­tims.

The prob­lems were far from over as all that rain — more than a foot in places — flows into rivers and down­stream, likely caus­ing days of ma­jor flood­ing in many of the same places dev­as­tated by a sim­i­lar del­uge from Hur­ri­cane Floyd in 1999.

“Hur­ri­cane Matthew is off the map. But it is still with us. And it is still deadly,” McCrory said.

Princeville, a town of 2,000 that dis­ap­peared in the waters of the Tar River dur­ing Floyd, was evac­u­ated Sun­day as the river was ex­pected to rise to 17 feet above flood stage by late Mon­day — a level not seen since Floyd.

McCrory ex­pected more evac­u­a­tions as some rivers were pre­dicted to crest Fri­day

More than 1 mil­lion peo­ple in South Carolina and Hur­ri­cane Matthew leaves flood­wa­ters in its wake on High­way 58 Sun­day in Nashville, N.C. North Carolina were with­out power, and at least four sep­a­rate sec­tions of In­ter­state 95 — the main artery link­ing the East Coast from Florida to Maine — were closed in North Carolina.

The fe­roc­ity of the rain caught peo­ple by sur­prise.

Ezekiel Crowe es­caped the floods Sat­ur­day in Fayet­teville with his par­ents and seven broth­ers and sis­ters when a po­lice boat plucked them from an apart­ment as the waters rose.

“I was scared. I was scared. And I thought, I thought the world was go­ing to end. But it didn’t,” he said.

In Wil­son County, res­cuers were called when a 63-year-old woman didn’t make it home from work. They heard her cries for help while rid­ing on top of a Humvee, and when they couldn’t get her with a rope, a Na­tional Guard sol­dier swam to her, stay­ing un­til a res­cue boat ar­rived, Emer­gency Man­age­ment Di­rec­tor Gor­don Deno said.

The rain­fall totals were stag­ger­ing: nearly 15 inches in Fayet­teville and 8 inches in Raleigh.

McCrory warned that cities along rivers in eastern North Carolina needed to be pre­pared for days of flood­ing. The Lum­ber River in Lum­ber­ton was 4 feet above its record level Sun­day and was fore­cast to re­main there for at least five days.

Shortly be­fore day­break, the hur­ri­cane was down­graded to a post-trop­i­cal cy­clone. The storm was cen­tered about 150 miles east of Cape Hat­teras, N.C., mov­ing out to sea. It still had hur­ri­cane-force winds of 75 mph.

Else­where along the At­lantic coast, things were slowly re­turn­ing to nor­mal.

Much of Sa­van­nah, Ga., which had 17 inches of rain,

CHRIS SEWARD/CHAR­LOTTE (N.C.) OB­SERVER

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