Matthew, now a post-tropical cyclone, began its slow exit overnight off the East Coast, but the damage isn't over.
The storm weakened Sunday, but it still managed to flood homes and businesses up to 100 miles inland in North Carolina, the Associated Press reported. Wilmington got a whopping 18 inches of rain, Fayetteville got 14 inches and Raleigh got 8 inches.
As of 2 a.m. Sunday, the storm center was around 30 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center discussion. It had sustained winds of up to 75 mph and some higher gusts.
The storm is expected to move eastward off the North Carolina coast by Sunday afternoon, according to the forecast. It is expected to weaken throughout Sunday and into Monday.
The deadly storm killed hundreds in Haiti and menaced the Florida coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, killing 10 in the U.S. Three of those deaths occurred in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McRory said.
McCrory said at a news conference Saturday that two people died in a submerged car in Bladen County, and one person died when a car hydroplaned in Sampson County. He gave no other details.
Matthew officially made landfall Saturday morning 40 miles northeast of Charleston, S.C., the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since Gaston in 2004. Charleston was spared from the worst as Matthew dropped to a Category 1, but the historic port city still faced a 6-foot storm surge, severe flooding and fallen trees downtown.
Despite warnings from government officials and meteorologists, some Charleston business owners who left their businesses returned Saturday to find themselves pleasantly surprised at the lack of damage.
“I guess we dodged a bullet for the most part,” said Kevin LePrince, owner of LePrince Fine Art, which was protected by plywood sheets. He said an interior camera didn’t show any damage.
Farther down King Street, Geemeen Kim, owner of So Good Jewelry, was sweeping up broken glass from an apartment window across the street. But he said his store had no damage.
“We were very worried last night but everything is okay,” he said.
Ashley Parham said she “stressed out all night” about the safety of her antique store but found it undamaged Saturday. “I’m going to go home and have a nice cocktail,” she said.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Saturday that 437,000 people were without power in the state. By 3 a.m. ET Sunday, at least 203,799 outages were reported, according to the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company's outage map.
"We're not seeing as much structural damage, which is the good news of that, as much as we're seeing flooding," Haley said Saturday during a news conference.
Some communities will be allowed to return to their homes on Sunday, depending on information from local authorities, Haley said. But the first 15 miles of I-95, coming in from North Carolina, were closed due to floods, as was a section of I-95 in Ridgeland. Other parts of the state had major roads closed due to flooding, including the Beaufort and Jasper counties.
Torrential rains continue to spread inland across the Carolinas, the hurricane center said, where a serious inland flooding event unfolded. The National Weather Service in Raleigh said that “life-threatening weather conditions” were occurring across eastern North Carolina.