The death toll increased from three to seven in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory announced in a 9 a.m. news conference. In addition, a person who had moved to a shelter died there because of a health ailment, he said. Overall, the death toll across the Southeast from the storm is 15, according to The Associated Press.
McCrory warned that the danger was far from over because massive rains aren’t expected to peak in rivers for another day or two. Rainfall totaled 16 inches in Tar Heel, 15 in Goldsboro, 12 in Fayetteville, 9 in Raleigh and 6 in Wilmington, he said.
Already Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s house was “completely destroyed,” McCrory said.
“This is still an extremely dangerous situation,” McCrory said. “We will not see the rivers peak possibly until Monday and Tuesday. Our models show very, very dangerous conditions as those rivers go over their edges.”
Already 887 people have been rescued from flood waters and crews are “extremely exhausted,” he said. In one case, police and National Guard members searched for a nurse who went missing overnight after her shift and found her clinging to a tree above flood waters, he said.
“Can you imagine clinging to a tree overnight?” McCrory asked. “I’m sure as the daylight comes, we’re going to see people trapped.
Power is out for about 760,000 people, largely in the eastern part of the state. Many roads are closed, including four sections of Interstate 95, a major north-south artery in the state.
“We’d prefer you not go out at this time,” McCrory said of state residents in storm zones.
By 8 a.m. ET Sunday, the storm center was around 60 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., moving northeast at 14 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It had sustained winds of up to 75 mph and some higher gusts.
The storm is expected to move eastward off the North Carolina coast by Sunday afternoon, according to the forecast. It is expected to weaken throughout Sunday and into Monday.
McCrory said at a news conference Saturday that two people died in a submerged car in Bladen County, and one person died when a car hydroplaned in Sampson County. He gave no other details.
Matthew officially made landfall Saturday morning 40 miles northeast of Charleston, S.C., the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since Gaston in 2004. Charleston was spared from the worst as Matthew dropped to a Category 1, but the historic port city still faced a 6-foot storm surge, severe flooding and fallen trees downtown.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Bart Jansen and Steph Solis