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Hurricane Matthew Blamed For 7 Deaths In N.C.; Flood Perils Continue

Chief of Police George Brothers walks along what used to be a four-lane national scenic byway that's now covered in sand after Hurricane Matthew hit the beach community of Edisto Beach, S.C., Saturday.

At least 16 deaths are now associated with Hurricane Matthew, the powerful storm that made landfall in South Carolina as it made its way up the Atlantic coast Saturday. After more than a foot of rain fell in several parts of North Carolina, officials said seven people died from the storm.

"As the sun rises in North Carolina and the blue sky returns, our state is facing major destruction and sadly, loss of life," Gov. Pat McCrory said Sunday. "This storm is not over for North Carolina."

Emergency crews in the state had performed 887 swift water rescues by Sunday morning, McCrory said.

Now rated as a post-tropical cyclone, Matthew is moving eastward away from North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. In its 2 p.m. ET update on the storm, the center said Matthew's center was 150 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

But while work crews are contending with fallen power lines and downed trees, flooding — particularly from swollen rivers — remains a key concern in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, where many waterways that are absorbing torrential rainfall aren't expected to crest until Monday or Tuesday.

As of early Sunday afternoon, the AP reported, "The death toll in the U.S. climbed to at least 16, nearly half of them in North Carolina."

Two North Carolina counties — Tar Heel and Bladen — had more than 16 inches of rain, McCrory said in an update as officials took stock of the situation on Sunday. The governor said he has signed an expedited major disaster declaration that's being sent to President Obama, so that the state can quickly receive federal assistance.

"As of mid-morning Sunday, there were more than 760,000 power outages in central and eastern North Carolina," according to member station WUNC.

Here are more updates on the storm's effects:

In South Carolina: "Currently more than 700,000 homes are without power," South Carolina Public Radio's Vince Kolb-Lugo reports in Columbia. "Meanwhile, authorities continue to monitor the levels of two rivers, the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee, which are both expected to rise even more in the coming days."

In Georgia: "The mandatory evacuation notice along the Georgia coastline is lifted, so residents here can start returning to their homes," NPR's David Schaper reports. "But in Savannah, Chatham County Chairman Al Scott is warning them not to just yet, because he says conditions in many areas are still not safe."

In Haiti, where the storm killed hundreds of people: "A massive relief effort is being mounted for hurricane-ravaged parts of Haiti," NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Port au Prince, "with President Obama urging Americans to give whatever they can."

Jason adds:

"Aid groups say they're sending in relief supplies by any means possible including boats, trucks and small planes. The main road linking the capital Port au Prince with the hardest hit part of the country was initially blocked after Matthew tore across the south of Haiti. Despite a bridge being washed away, trucks from the United Nations and aid groups are now getting across by driving through a shallow point in the river."

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