Thursday morning update:
As Hurricane Matthew's impact on North Carolina extended to its sixth day, Governor Pat McCrory actually had a bit of good news at his 9 a.m. press conference.
McCrory voiced there were no new deaths to report Thursday morning and power outages were significantly reduced to 55,000. At one point, nearly 500,000 were without power in eastern and Central NC. The death toll remains at 20.
McCrory went on a tour of Lumberton and Robeson County Wednesday, where many roads and homes are still under water, including I-95.
McCrory: We saw the best of NC yesterday. Saw people who were resilient, people who were caring. I did see the best of NC. pic.twitter.com/2ZblJpSNUW— WFMY News 2 (@WFMY) October 13, 2016
Concerns still linger for areas along the Neuse and Tar Rivers. McCrory said the Neuse River is expected to break record levels within the next 24 hours. The rivers are expected to crest Friday in Edgecombe, Pitt, Bladen, Wayne and Lenoir Counties. McCrory said towns along the rivers are bracing for even worse flooding and doing all they can to prepare.
McCrory said almost 3,400 people were in shelters in the state with the next priority finding them rental properties so they can have better care and be with their family.
The govenor was glad to report the federal government distributed $2.6 million to disaster survivors and $5 million for highway repairs.
Woodlake Dam in Moore County is still a concern with evacuations ongoing for homes surrounding the dam.
I-95 is still closed from Lumberton to Fayetteville and I-40 remains closed on a seven-mile stretch near Newton Grove.
Wednesday afternoon Update:
McCrory said at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference one more death were confirmed after two were confirmed Wednesday morning, bringing the total to 20.
The state is averaging two deaths per day and almost all the deaths so far have been due to drowning.
State officials told CBS North Carolina Tuesday night that there had been 18 fatalities. The governor reported two more, but only one of those deaths was new.
Isabelle Ralls, 81, of Falcon in Cumberland County, was found dead after drowning in her vehicle on Monday at about 3:20 p.m., officials said. The vehicle was located near the 100 block of Rhodes Pond Road.
McCrory reported that a man in Wayne County died after driving his car into flood waters and being swept away — that death had already been confirmed Tuesday night.
He also reported that a 51-year-old man died while walking in flood waters in Johnston County on Sunday, but the body had just been recovered.
McCrory warned residents to stop trying to get past flood waters and said those that live near the Neuse, Tar and Lumbee rivers should stay away from the water.
“Do not get near the water. It will kill you,” he said.
About 7 p.m. Wednesday, officials announced U.S. 70 has been closed in Kinston because of flood waters.
The Neuse River is at record levels in some areas and is forecast to crest Wednesday night. That water is now moving downhill towards Kinston and then the ocean.
The Tar River in Tarboro is also expected to crest Wednesday.
Greenville is bracing for the Tar River waters but has had time to prepare, McCrory said.
“Each of these areas has plenty of notice,” McCrory said.
Robeson County and Lumberton remains underwater with an additional 50 water rescues happening there Tuesday night. McCrory said there have been 80 air rescues made to date by North Carolina rescue helicopters. The U.S. Coast Guard has reported they’ve made at least 94 air rescues.
More than 125 people have been rescued in Wayne County and one person died in Goldsboro in flood waters from Hurricane Matthew after the storm dumped up to 18 inches of rain on Goldsboro and the county since Saturday.
In Johnston County, the Neuse has already passed record stage by more than one foot.
So far, 34 counties have been approved for federal funding to help cover the costs of responding to the storm. The funding will also help pay for storm debris removal.
The counties approved for storm response funding are Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lenoir, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson counties.
Additionally, homeowners and renters in 17 counties can apply for individual aid. Those counties are Bertie, Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt, Sampson, Robeson, Wayne and Wilson.
“I am committed to doing everything we possibly can to help families and communities recover from the devastating impacts caused by Matthew,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “We appreciate the expedited federal assistance that will be critical to helping North Carolinians begin the long recovery process.”
All 100 counties in North Carolina will be eligible for funding to help mitigate future storm damage.
Some communities in central and eastern North Carolina are still under evacuation orders.
There have been evacuations in Greenville, Princeville, the Blackwater River basin in Pender County, and in Lenoir County.
There is an ongoing evacuation for those in communities downstream of the Woodlake Dam in Moore County because of the threat that the dam will breach due to a hole in it.
The hole in the dam was the size of car but has since grown to the size of two ambulances, officials said. Members of the National Guard spent hours on Tuesday putting sandbags in place to help secure it.
“If that dam gave way, they’re gone. I want you to understand, they’re on a dam that if that thing broke, they’re gone, and there’s no rescuing them probably because you’ve got millions of gallons of water that’s going to take them away. They’re risking their life to get this thing done,” said Nick Picerno, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, of the 30 to 40 National Guard members putting their lives at risk to protect the communities downstream.
In the event of a breach, the reservoir would empty in about 30 minutes leading to communities downstream being flooded by two to three feet of additional water, Spring Lake officials said.
McCrory admitted to making a mistake Tuesday by saying the dam was stabilized and that evacuations had been halted.
There are currently 43 shelters open and 3,800 people being housed in those shelters.
“We want these people not to have to stay in these shelters, and we also need to return these shelters to schools. This is going to be our major priority: how do we get at least temporary housing for people who have been flooded?” McCrory said. “We’re talking again, thousands of people. There’s no easy solution.”
For those who have been able to stay in their homes or return home, electricity is still an issue for many.
Around 111,345 customers are still without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management officials. McCrory said those numbers translated to around 300,000 people affected by the outages.
He is working with Duke Energy to restore power to schools. Thirty-four school systems are currently closed.
State Farm said it has received thousands of storm-related claims in North Carolina since Matthew hit.
As of Wednesday, the insurer said it has received 4,310 homeowner claims and 1,290 auto claims.
Flooding continues to devastate parts of our state after Hurricane Matthew.
Tuesday evening, North Carolina Officials said 18 people have died so far as a result of the storm.
McCrory said in an afternoon news conference that two people drowned in Robeson County. There were also drownings in Columbus and Wayne counties. Each was attributed to cars either being submerged or swept away in flood waters, but no additional details were immediately available. In all, 33 people have died in the U.S.
WFMY News 2 had crews in Fayetteville and Lumberton on Tuesday. Most businesses, roads, and homes - closed or abandoned because of high waters.
Our Hope Ford spoke with two Lumberton women who were separated from their families by the flooding.
Elizabeth Morales says she got separated from her daughter and mom in Lumberton. She says all she has heard is that they are in a shelter.
Our Meghann Mollerus was in Fayetteville Tuesday morning. Rockfish Creek and Cape Fear Basin were rising and nearing crest stage. One official told her the last time he saw the river that high, it eventually spilled over.
In Lumberton, detour roads were even covered by a sheet of water.
Officials say more than 2,000 people have already been rescued in NC. Most of the rescues have been in Cumberland and Robeson counties.
The Lumberton City Manager says the water plant is down from flooding. The big concern now for the area is finding a clean water resource.
McCrory said the flooding is expected to create problems for the rest of the week in Greenville, Rocky Mount, and Goldsboro.
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