RALEIGH, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory said that the Hurricane Matthew death toll has increased to 19 after the storm brought record flooding to the eastern half of the state over the weekend.
“North Carolina is going to be resilient and deal with it in the right way,” the governor said. “I am sad to report, however, that we have two more fatalities. We now stand at 19 storm fatalities. Just during the past three days, we’ve averaging two fatalities per day, with almost all of them due to drowning.”
McCrory said the scene in eastern North Carolina has been surreal, as bright blue skies and abundant sunshine have blanketed the state since the storm moved away from the Carolina coast.
“It’s almost like a surreal environment because since Monday, we’ve had beautiful Carolina blue skies,” said McCrory. “Yet while we’re having extremely beautiful days people in North Carolina are suffering as we speak.”
McCrory stressed that the worst flooding is still yet to come for several communities as rivers continue to approach record crests with flood waters receding into waterways as it flows toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The Neuse River is expected to reach above record levels, higher than Hurricane Floyd in 1999. McCrory said near Smithfield the Neuse is above the record crest by more than a foot, and water going downhill to the ocean is going to further impact areas already underwater. The Tar River at Greenville is expected to crest to a near-record level on Saturday, a whole week after the storm made its initial impact on the state.
The governor said he’s proud of the work that’s been done by federal, state, and local officials to help those residents who have lost their homes in the flood. Over 200,000 people remain without power, but those numbers are significantly lower than just a day ago.
“I saw a group of men along I-40 last night, and you could see the exhaustion in their faces,” McCrory said. “They’ve been restoring power for seven, eight, even nine days for some and it’s dangerous for them, too.”
There is some good news, however. Four additional counties have been approved by FEMA to receive federal aid after they were denied during an initial assessment.
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“The Federal Government approved my request to add Bertie, Johnson, Wayne and Wilson counties for either public or individual assistance,” McCrory said. “We had already requested they receive federal assistance, but FEMA did not initially include them because of their initial flyover there was no flooding there.”
McCrory encouraged those who aren’t impacted in the western half of the state to donate to victims.
“We activated the state’s Hurricane Matthew relief fund to support long-term recoveries, a partnership with the United Way of North Carolina. Visit ncdisasterrelief.org or text NCRECOVERS to 30306 to help.”
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Florida Governor Rick Scott, who was receiving aid from North Carolina as well as other states in the southeast ahead of Matthew, is shipping 18 semi truckloads of meals to families in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina that have been affected by the floods.
Information from emergency management directors shows 14 of the storm-related deaths involved motor vehicles. The state has not released the names of the victims.
- two people were killed Saturday in Bladen County when a car traveled through a washed-out road.
- one in Sampson County on Saturday when a male driver hydroplaned his vehicle and struck a tree.
- one in Rowan County on Saturday when a female victim died in a storm-related house fire. No other details were provided.
- one in Wilson County on Saturday when a vehicle drove into flood waters.
- one in Pitt County on Sunday when a female drove into standing water.
- one in Johnston County on Sunday when a vehicle was swept away when the driver went across a flood-covered bridge.
- one in Johnston County on Sunday when a vehicle traveling through flood waters ran off the road. Three people in the car were rescued and one other person is missing.
- one in Johnston County on Sunday when a vehicle traveling on Interstate 95 was swept off the road and into Hannah Creek.
- one in Johnston County when a 51-year-old man walking on Sunday was swept away by floodwaters.
- one in Harnett County when a male driver drove around a barricade and into flood waters. The state did not release a date for that death.
- one in Gates County, where the body of a 75-year-old man was located Monday inside a car discovered as flood waters began to recede. The man was considered missing Sunday, with his cellphone's last contact traced to a flood area of N.C. Highway 32 near Gatesville.
- one man in Wake County who died overnight Monday while heading home from work when a tree fell on his vehicle.
- one in Wilson County who died overnight Monday in an accident when the victim ended up in a submerged vehicle.
- one in Cumberland County who died overnight Monday in an accident when the victim ended up in a submerged vehicle.
- two in Robeson County died due to cars swept away by flood waters.
- one in Columbus County died due to submerged car in flood waters
- one in Wayne County died due to car filled with water.
Power outages continue to be restored throughout the state. According to North Carolina's Emergency Management Center, on Thursday morning there were 55,520 power outages. This is down from the peak of over 770,000.