Tuesday, October 11, 2016

At least 26 U.S. deaths are blamed on Hurricane Matthew; the death toll is expected to rise with post storm flooding and restoration efforts

Hurricane Matthew’s U.S. Death Toll Climbs to at Least 26
About 1,500 residents stranded after Lumberton, N.C., levee fails

Record flooding hit eastern and central North Carolina, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, stranding thousands of people and leaving over a million without power. Photo: Associated Press

Cameron McWhirter Updated Oct. 10, 2016 9:40 p.m. ET 

Record flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew hit eastern and central North Carolina, stranding thousands of people and bringing the storm’s death toll to at least 26 in the U.S. Southeast.

At least ten people were killed in North Carolina from the hurricane, up from an earlier count of eight, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday.

A levee in Lumberton, N.C., failed, flooding a neighborhood and trapping about 1,500 people in their homes Monday. Most of the water was “knee deep” and some people fled to their roofs, Mr. McCrory said, noting that emergency crews in helicopters and boats began a mass evacuation of the area.

“People who live near rivers, streams and levees need to be extremely careful,” he said.

Parts of Interstate 95, the East Coast’s major north-south roadway, remained closed as of Monday. The governor urged anyone driving south or north on I-95 to stop before arriving in North Carolina.

While North Carolina residents struggled with flooding, the storm that caused it had headed out to sea and dissipated. Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked havoc in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean before plowing up the East Coast from Florida to North Carolina, was downgraded on Monday to a posttropical storm and was far into the Atlantic Ocean.

In Haiti, the official death toll from Hurricane Matthew continued to rise. Haiti’s Civil Protection Department said Monday that it had confirmed the deaths of 372 people, up from 336 it reported Saturday. Other reports, including comments from local officials in Haiti, have put the death toll much higher.

A washed-out section of road in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday. Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters

The Civil Protection Department said via its Twitter account that as of Monday there were four people missing, 246 injured and more than 175,000 people taking refuge in shelters.

The National Weather Service said the storm would move northeast toward the Canadian Maritime Provinces by Monday evening, bringing some rain to the U.S. Northeast.

Florida, Georgia and South Carolina spent Monday cleaning up in the storm’s wake, with crews restoring power and people returning to homes to assess damage.

In North Carolina, about 506,000 structures were without power Monday morning, leaving “well over a million people without power,” Mr. McCrory said. About 2,600 people stayed in 60 emergency shelters in North Carolina Sunday night, he said.

By late Monday afternoon, utilities from Florida to Virginia said at least 960,000 power customers were still in the dark. The vast majority of power outages were in the Carolinas.

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday lifted all evacuation orders, allowing people to make their way back to their homes. State government offices in 21 counties remained closed, according to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. The storm killed at least three people in South Carolina, including a man in a Columbia nursing home who drowned after falling out of his electric wheelchair into floodwater.

 The death toll is expected to rise with post storm flooding and restoration efforts.  Typical deaths include, but are not limited to: drownings, electrocutions, falls, heart attacks, restoration-work accidents.