Though Matthew is 'off the map,' its effects continue to devastate NC


Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.

When Hurricane Matthew dumped torrential rains on North Carolina, thousands of people found themselves suddenly 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 on to a tree for three hours after her car was overrun by flood waters.

In another dramatic 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 17 in the U.S. — nearly half of them in North Carolina. 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.

More than a million people in South Carolina and 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.

“The forecast said it wasn’t supposed to be anything major. Just rain and wind. Well, considering what happened weeks prior with the rain and combined with this, Mother Nature’s at its best,” said Lamont England, who was trying Sunday to get to his parents’ home in Fayetteville.

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.

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