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Man shot dead in search for flood victims, as Hurricane Matthew's death toll mounts

The hurricane has now claimed 34 lives in the US as well over 500 lives in Haiti.

Floodwater surround road signs ub Nichols, North Carolina, as people were rescued from Hurricane-related flooding.
Floodwater surround road signs ub Nichols, North Carolina, as people were rescued from Hurricane-related flooding.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A STATE TROOPER shot and killed an armed man during a search for flood victims in a tense and dispirited North Carolina as high water from Hurricane Matthew pushed downstream.

Thousands more people were ordered to evacuate last night, two days after the storm blew out to sea.

Matthew’s death toll in the US climbed to 34 – more than half of them in North Carolina – in addition to the more than 500 feared dead in Haiti.

In Greenville, a city of 90,000, officials warned that the Tar River would overwhelm every bridge in the county by sundown, splitting it in half before the river crests late Wednesday.

Evacuations were ordered there and in such communities as Goldsboro and Kinston, as rivers swelled to some of the highest levels ever recorded.

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 with more than a foot of rain over the weekend during a run up the East Coast from Florida.

An angry Governor Pat McCrory asked people to stop ignoring evacuation orders and driving around barricades on flooded roads: “That is unacceptable.

You are not only putting your life danger, you are putting emergency responders’ lives in jeopardy.

In the hard-hit town of Lumberton, along the bloated Lumber River, sporadic looting was reported, and a North Carolina trooper searching for people trapped by the floodwaters killed a man who confronted officers with a gun on Monday night, police said.

Hurricane Matthew South Carolina A car surrounded by floodwater on Highway 9 in North Carolina. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Patience wearing

Authorities gave few details, but McCrory said the shooting happened in “very difficult circumstances,” adding: “Tension can be high when people are going through very, very emotional circumstances.”

In Lumberton, patience was wearing thin.

Ada Page, 74, spent two nights sleeping in a hard plastic folding chair at a shelter put together so hastily there were no cots and people had to walk outside in the back to use portable toilets. She complained she didn’t even have her children’s telephone numbers with her.

“I left at home all my clothes, everything. The only thing I have is this child and what I was driving,” said Page, who was with the eight-year-old granddaughter she takes care of.

The full extent of the disaster in North Carolina was still 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.

Hurricane Matthew South Carolina Downtown Nichols under floodwater. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Chickens

McCrory said thousands of animals drowned – mostly chickens on poultry farms – and he was deciding how to dispose of the carcasses safely.

The flooding extended to South Carolina, where 150 people had to be rescued on Monday from the tiny town of Nichols, downstream from Lumberton. On Tuesday, some residents returned in boats to survey the damage.

Also flooding were the Neuse River, which reached a record crest in Goldsboro on Tuesday, and the Tar River, which threatened Princeville, a town founded in 1865 by freed slaves and destroyed by Floyd’s flooding 17 years ago.

After that, the river flows into Greenville, where Danita Lynch wasn’t taking any chances. She helped her 59-year-old mother load nearly all her belongings into a box truck and get to higher ground.

“We decided to pack her up yesterday. The water is right across the street,” Lynch said.

East Carolina University in Greenville canceled classes for the rest of the week for its more than 28,000 students.

Hurricane Matthew South Carolina A Methodist church under floodwater in Nichols, North Carolina. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Tar flooded

Mary Schulken, the school’s executive director of communications, said that as the Tar began flooding over the weekend, she had to move her 98-year-old mother and her belongings out of her retirement community next to the river.

“She was fearful, upset, anxious, and when she’s that way, I’m that way,” Schulken said. “I know that is a personal experience that is being repeated and has the potential to be repeated many times over in this community.”

Not everyone was obeying the evacuation order.

Angie Hamill was still serving drinks on Tuesday afternoon at the Players Retreat Bar next to the river in Greenville. Brown muck from Floyd could still be seen above the chair rail, though the water wasn’t forecast to rise quite that high this time.

The gambling machines and an ATM were removed from the bar to keep them safe.

“We don’t have any games, but we have beer and we have soda,” Hamill said, “and as long as I can keep it cold, we’ll be OK.”

Haiti Hurricane Matthew A view of the wreckage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Anse D'Hainault in Haiti on Tuesdau. Source: Dieu Nalio Chery

1.4 million people

Food, water and building supplies began to reach remote corners of Haiti early this morning as tens of thousands of people slowly rebuilt their lives after a devastating Category 4 storm hit last week.

In the southern seaside community of Les Cayes, a UN truck delivered water to the Sous Roche neighborhood while residents including 49-year-old fisherman Justin Cambry stood in line. The delivery marked the first time the neighborhood had received any help since Hurricane Matthew hit on Oct. 4.

“Life is completely destroyed here,” Cambry said. “It will take 20 years to get it all back.”

The United Nations has called for $120 million in aid, noting that about 750,000 people in southwest Haiti alone will need “life-saving assistance and protection” in the next three months. Overall, at least 1.4 million people need assistance, the U.N. said.

Meanwhile, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the storm’s impact has put on hold a new policy of deporting Haitians in the United States without permission, but the government intends to resume it in the future.

He said US officials will have to “be sympathetic to the plight of the people of Haiti as a result.” But after conditions change, “we intend to resume the policy.”

Haiti Hurricane Matthew Residents burn debris and work to repair damaged homes outside Les Cayes in Haiti. Source: Rebecca Blackwell

The National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince raised the official nationwide death toll to 473, which included at least 244 deaths in Grand-Anse. But local officials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.

Concern also was growing about an increase in cases of cholera, which has already killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010.

The World Health Organization pledged to send 1 million doses of cholera vaccine to Haiti, where water and sanitation infrastructure has been severely damaged. Sandra Honore, the U.N. envoy for Haiti, said the health impact of Hurricane Matthew “cannot be overestimated.”

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Associated Press

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