Governor McCrory Warns of Life-Threatening Flooding in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Raleigh, N.C.

Governor Pat McCrory detailed the ongoing life-threatening dangers caused by Hurricane Matthew as record flooding continues to impact inland communities. The governor said that more than 1,400 people have been saved by swift water rescue teams and many more are expected throughout the day. 

“Blue skies have returned to North Carolina, but dangerous conditions remain,” said Governor McCrory. “As we have learned from previous hurricanes, the aftermath of the storm is often the deadliest. People who live near rivers, streams and levees must take extreme caution as the greatest threat to human life is rivers flooding in the coming days. Listen to your local officials and take all evacuation orders seriously.” 

Floodwaters rapidly rose overnight in Lumberton, stranding nearly 1,500 residents. Helicopters, boats and swift water rescue teams were deployed to the area to get people to safety, including teams from FEMA and other states. 

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction over the Lumberton area, so that all aviation activity can focus on the rescues. Drones are prohibited in flooded areas because of their potential to obstruct rescue operations.

More than 600 North Carolina National Guard troops and nearly 200 high water and rescue vehicles have been activated. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assist with rescues. The National Guard, State Highway Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard have increased aviation assets and completed more than 26 air rescues. 

The greatest threat remains inland flooding that will continue into this week in central and eastern North Carolina. Residents near rivers, streams and levees need to be extremely careful as flooding is expected throughout the coming week.

Central and eastern North Carolina have major additional flooding predicted for towns and cities along the: Lumber, Cape Fear, Neuse, and Tar rivers, along with many other rivers and creeks. State officials are monitoring a number of overtopped or breaching dams in central and eastern counties.

There have been 10 confirmed weather-related fatalities and five people reported missing. The most recent fatality occurred around 8 p.m. Sunday night in Johnston County when a driver drove into floodwaters.  

Governor McCrory warned motorists never to drive through standing water on roads and highways, and not to drive through temporary barriers or barricades.

“I cannot emphasize this enough, if you see a flooded road, turn around, do not drive through it,” said Govenror McCrory. "Not only are you making this life-threatening decision for yourself, you are making it for rescue personnel who will be called upon to save your life.”

Numerous major interstates and roads, as well as hundreds of secondary roads remain closed. Among the major roads that are impacted include:

Parts of I-95 closed in multiple locations due to flooding… from Four Oaks south through Fayetteville and Lumberton
I-40 in several locations in Johnston County in and around Benson as well as in both directions near Exit 355 in Sampson County
Parts of US-70 in both directions in Wayne and Lenior Counties (east and west of Goldsboro)
Parts of NC Highway 12 in Dare County remain impassable due to sand and high water on the roadway.
The latest updates on road closures can be found at ReadyNC.org, the ReadyNC mobile app or by calling 5-1-1.

The rains also filled many lakes and ponds to the brim. State and local officials responded to about 11 reports Saturday of dams overtopping. The National Weather Service is forecasting major river flooding across eastern North Carolina through early to mid-week, with potential record levels along the Neuse River. The rainfall and high winds led to many power outages across the state.

Power outages across the state continue to fall. As of 10:30 a.m., power outages totaled more than 465,000 statewide, down from more than 800,000 on Sunday. Utilities are continuing to work around the clock to respond to power outages in affected areas.

More than 60 emergency shelters remain open in central and eastern North Carolina and are currently housing more than 2,800 people. For those needing information, including nearby shelter, housing, and other storm-related details, call 2-1-1. 

The American Red Cross is in desperate need for volunteers. They have opened a volunteer intake center in Fayetteville at the Kiwanis Recreation Center at 352 Devers Street.

Local officials have issued several mandatory evacuations in:

  • Kinston—mandatory evacuation for all residents in Neuse River Basin
  • Greenville—began a mandatory evacuation on Sunday
  • Dare County—imposed curfew on Sunday and only property owners and vehicles allowed in
  • Halifax County—imposed curfew on Sunday
  • Princeville—mandatory evacuation due to potential flooding and 7 p.m. curfew set on Sunday

The governor warned of the continued environmental dangers of the standing floodwaters, and asked residents in affected areas not to cross through or swim through flooded waters. This is especially crucial in areas where floodwaters have crossed agricultural areas, which have been hit particularly hard by this storm. Those in affected farmlands who require assistance can call the Agriculture Disaster Hotline at 1-866-645-9403. 

Governor McCrory emphasized that the state is better prepared than ever to handle the financial implications of the storm. Under the governor’s leadership, North Carolina has tripled the balance in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to an all-time-high balance of $1.6 billion. The governor mentioned that additional federal financial assistance is also expected. 

The governor also thanked private sector partners who have been helping with response efforts. They include the WalMart Foundation, Coca Cola, Pepsi, the North Carolina Beverage Association, Sprint, Arby’s and Lowes Home Improvement.

Other private sector partners who are interested in helping with the relief efforts can email beoc@ncem.org or call (919) 825-2454.

For more information about responding to a hurricane and what to do before, during or after a storm, go to ReadyNC.org. You can also get real-time traffic and weather updates on the ReadyNC mobile app. Follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on Hurricane Matthew.

This press release is related to: