Matthew’s punch still delivers pain to North Carolina
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The flooding disaster is forecast to slowly unfold over the next several days as all that rain — more than a foot in places — flows into rivers and downstream, likely causing more inundation in many of the same places devastated by a similar deluge from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Thousands of people found themselves suddenly trapped in homes and cars during the torrential rains. 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.
The storm killed more than 500 people in Haiti and at least 20 in the U.S. — half of them in North Carolina. Most were swept away by flood waters.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Sunday that authorities were searching for five people and feared they may find more victims.
“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 next Friday.
David Bullock’s sister called him as he bought lottery tickets to tell him police were knocking on doors saying they had to go. He rebuilt his home after the 1999 flood.
“If I get flooded again, I can’t take it. I can’t go back and take the expense. If I get flooded again I’m going to say, ‘it’s yours, I’m gone,”’ Bullock 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. Ezekiel Crowe, 10, escaped the floods in Fayetteville on Saturday 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.