Flooding continued to threaten parts of North Carolina on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew's deadly after-effects swelled rivers and forced tens of thousands to be evacuated.
"Record flooding is slowly moving down river on Nuese and Tar rivers," NBC meteorologist Bill Karins said. "Crests will occur in the next two days, but even then it will be well into the weekend before these rivers show significant water level drops."
The Tar and Neuse are in the state's northeastern corner and run into Pamlico Sound.
The rising waters were being acutely felt in Greenville, where authorities had ordered evacuations for about one-tenth of its 90,000 people. The Tar was expected to crest later in the day and officials warned it would overwhelm every bridge in the county, The Associated Press reported.
I’m really concerned for North and South Carolinians dealing with such dangerous flooding. Please heed the latest warnings & stay safe. -H
Matthew's death toll in the U.S. has climbed to 38, half of them in North Carolina. Tens of thousands of people, some of them as much as 125 miles inland, have been warned to move to higher ground since the hurricane drenched the state.
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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday the death toll in his state has jumped overnight from 17 to 19.
"I cannot emphasize enough to stay away from the water. It will kill you," McCrory said.
More than 110,000 customers in North Carolinastill were without power Wednesday, the state's major electric utilities reported. President Barack Obama declared a new state of emergency for 31 counties in the eastern half of the state.
Along the bloated Lumber River in Lumberton, Ada Page told the AP she had spent two nights sleeping in a hard plastic folding chair at a shelter. People were using portable toilets outside, she said.
"I left at home all my clothes, everything. The only thing I have is this child and what I was driving," said age, who was with the 8-year-old granddaughter.
Lumberton is around 120 miles southeast of Charlotte.
Local officials and meteorologists warned residents to not be fooled by the ongoing sunny weather.
"You can have all the rain stop — the storm's gone, it's beautiful and sunny outside — but those rivers, they just keep on swelling, and they keep on rising," said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, on Tuesday.
The full extent of the damage in North Carolina was unclear, but it appeared that thousands of homes were damaged. Many likened Matthew to Hurricane Floyd, which did $3 billion in damage and destroyed 7,000 homes in North Carolina as it skirted the state's coast in 1999.
F. Brinley Bruton
F. Brinley Bruton is senior editor in charge of NBC News Digital’s London bureau.
Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news and technology and religion. He is based in Los Angeles.