RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 10 (UPI) — Although Hurricane Matthew is gone, hundreds of thousands in the U.S. Southeast continue to deal with its soggy aftermath — including the deaths of more than two dozen people.
Officials say at least 27 people have died as the result of the storm, which passed by Florida Thursday and then Georgia and South Carolina before it headed back out to sea.
The deaths were reported in North Carolina (11), Florida (9), South Carolina (3), Georgia (3) and Virginia (1). Officials said the toll might continue to rise as authorities clean up and attend to more stranded individuals.
Many areas of coastal North Carolina saw 15 inches of rain, two or three times what had been predicted. And as Matthew moved away from Cape Hatteras, and out into the Atlantic Ocean as a tropical storm, it left a massive amount of damage.
According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, more than 400,000 homes and businesses were still without power as of Monday evening. Another 124,000 customers in Georgia were also without electricity. Earlier Monday, outages affected 300,000 in Florida and 200,000 in Virginia.
In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley asked President Barack Obama to declare 13 counties as major disaster areas. On Sunday, 3,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina, and parts of two major freeways – Interstate 40 and Interstate 95 – were closed.
A Comfort Inn in Brunswick County, N.C., where several linemen from a local utility company were staying, along with a number of people who’d been evacuated, had to be emptied late Saturday evening when the walls started to creak and crack.
“The pressure and the gusts just started cracking the walls. With each gust of wind, it just got wider and wider,” Melissa Fineman, the manager of the hotel, told the New York Times.
While flood waters have receded on the north Florida coast, heavy flooding is expected to continue to be a problem in the Carolinas all week, with rivers flooded and the water table so high in the low-lying areas that the extra water has nowhere to go.