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Hurricane Matthew has now killed 19 people in the US; record floods in North Carolina

Hurricane Matthew Bears Down On Atlantic Coast Of Florida
An abandoned car damaged by a fallen tree sits along Interstate 16, October 8, 2016 in Savannah, Georgia.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hurricane Matthew has killed 19 people in the United States so far, left another 2.2 million without power, and caused record-breaking flooding in North Carolina.

While the storm was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday and is heading out to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s leaving plenty of damage in its wake. North Carolina officials said that at least 887 people have had to be rescued so far, as rivers continue to overflow and flash floods catch many people unaware. Flooding is likely to last through the week:

Matthew, as you’ll recall, was originally a Category 4 hurricane that absolutely devastated the western regions of Haiti — leaving nearly 900 dead — before sidling up to the coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Ever since Thursday, the storm has been lashing the coasts with high winds and destructive storm surges. On Saturday, Matthew finally weakened to a Category 1 hurricane and made landfall south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, causing serious inland flooding.

This image from the National Hurricane Center shows Matthew’s path over the past week:

(National Hurricane Center)

Matthew could have been much, much worse — it could have very easily smashed right into Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds strong enough to pulverize homes. Instead, thanks to a bit of meteorological good fortune, it mostly stayed offshore, buzzing along the coast of Florida and Georgia.

But even along the coast, Matthew was enough to destroy sand dunes, damage trees and homes, and send huge storm surges — reaching up to 11 feet at high tide — to flood coastal cities. Early estimates suggest that Matthew has inflicted at least $4 billion in damage throughout the Southeast:

At least 19 people in the United States are reported to have died in the storm so far: eight in North Carolina, one in South Carolina, four in Georgia, six in Florida. That toll includes at least two people in North Carolina whose cars were swept away by floods, two people in Georgia who were killed by falling trees, and one woman in Florida who suffered a heart attack and was unable to be reached by medical crews.

Lately, North Carolina has been suffering the brunt of the storm. After Matthew made landfall, it dragged heavy bands of rain across the eastern portion of North Carolina, resulting in heavy inland flooding and flash floods.

"Hurricane Matthew is presenting major challenges across the state, with heavy impacts on road conditions across eastern and central North Carolina," Gov. Pat McCrory said on Saturday. "We are seeing lots of fallen trees, downed power lines and flooded roads. I urge people to stay off the roads until conditions improve."

Rivers will continue to overtop even after the storm has passed. The National Weather Service has been sending out flash flood warnings, telling people in those areas to move to higher ground and not to drive. (Cars tend to float in just 2 feet of water.)

Meanwhile, the storm has left more than 2.2 million people across the Southeastern US without power. NASA’s Earth Observatory took this stunning satellite image of the storm snuffing out lights across the region:

(NASA Earth Observatory)

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