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Hurricane Matthew Death Toll Rises, 'Difficult Days' Ahead, N.C. Governor Says

Searchers found two more bodies inside vehicles submerged in North Carolina's floodwaters, increasing the body count to 46 in the United States.
Image: Hurricane Matthew flooding aftermath in Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA.
A home and truck are submerged in Hope Mills, North Carolina. Hurricane Matthew is blamed for at least seven deaths in the North Carolina and hundreds in Haiti, according to reports.CAITLIN PENNA / EPA

RALEIGH, N.C. — Searchers found two more bodies inside vehicles that were submerged in flood waters in North Carolina from Hurricane Matthew, increasing the toll in the state to 26 dead, Gov. Pat McCrory said Saturday.

McCrory talked a lot about recovery at his Saturday news conference — one week after the hurricane dumped more than a foot of rain 100 miles inland causing massive flooding in the eastern part of the state. Towns such as Princeville, Lumberton and Fair Bluff remain under water, and not all rivers have crested.

Early next week, the governor plans to release a detailed plan on how North Carolina will rebuild, including how to pay for the effort. But he said serious problems remain.

"There are still many, may difficult days ahead for North Carolina," McCrory said.

The latest victims from the flooding were found in Cumberland County and Wayne County after flood waters receded from last weekend's rains. Almost all the deaths in North Carolina have been from people driving or walking into flood waters and being swept away.

Flooding triggered by the hurricane has killed 46 people in the United States. Across the Eastern seaboard, Matthew is being blamed for 26 deaths in North Carolina, 12 in Florida, four in South Carolina, three in Georgia and one in Virginia.

In addition, some 1,000 were killed in Haiti.

Governor Pat McCrory speaks with the pastor of St. Mark Church of Christ, Alton A. Smith on a tour of flooding in Goldsboro, North Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 13.Casey Mozingo / AP

McCrory said Friday was the first day since the rains began that crews have not had to rescue anyone from the water.

Interstate 95 remains closed in both directions around Lumberton, despite crews working around the clock to fix bridges, pavement and clear debris. Crews can't give an estimate on when the East Coast's main north-south highway will reopen at that spot.

"We have to see the inspections, we have to finish the engineering, we have to finish the construction," McCrory said.

Only about 13,000 customers remain without power, most of them in Robeson County where the inundation from the Tar River preventing crews from working.

Meanwhile, drought continues to creep into areas of North Carolina west of Charlotte, which saw almost no rain from Hurricane Matthew. Hendersonville, a city of about 15,000 in the state's western mountains, plans to ask residents to begin conserving water next week. The far western part of the state is in a severe drought.