- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - More than two weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina, some areas are still flooded and others are beginning the long process of recovery.

In North Carolina, the hurricane dumped more than a foot of rain 100 miles inland, causing massive flooding in the eastern part of the state. Towns such as Princeville, Lumberton and Fair Bluff were inundated.

Below is a look at recovery efforts.

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WHAT’S STILL FLOODED?

The National Weather Service shows that there are still flood warnings in effect for the Kinston area, Lumberton and for parts of Craven County.

A National Weather Service chart shows the Neuse River was still above moderate flood stage Friday in Kinston, and not expected to dip below flood stage until Sunday. An inundation map shows there is still flooding in Kinston. Downstream, a flood gauge at Fort Barnwell in Craven County was still at moderate flood stage

The Lumber River at Lumberton was still at flood stage, and wasn’t expected to below that until early Monday. The Tar River at Greenville was just below flood stage Friday, and a weather service map showed some areas were still flooded along the river.

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DAMAGE AND ROAD CLOSURES

Where floodwaters have receded, areas from Raleigh to the coast were starting to clean up.

Flooding from Hurricane Matthew caused $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings, according to a state estimate created through computer modeling. That figure is just one piece of the overall picture of how the storm affected the state financially. For example, it doesn’t include the cost of repairing damaged roads and bridges or replacing items inside damaged buildings, which are often covered by insurance policies.

As of Friday morning, there were still over 400 road closures around the state, Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott said. The state didn’t have an estimate of how much it would cost to repair damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Sections of Interstates 40 and 95 have reopened.

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Wednesday that he established a statewide recovery committee.

“I saw firsthand as I traveled the state how the strong waters from the Lumber, Neuse, Cape Fear and Tar Rivers tragically forced people from their homes and businesses. But those waters also brought out the best of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “Rising waters can crumble our roads and flood our communities, but they cannot wash away our resilience or the spirit to rebuild.”

The storm was blamed for at least 27 deaths in North Carolina.

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HOUSING

The number of people living in shelters continues to drop, state officials said Friday.

Emergency management officials said 816 people were living in 16 shelters, down from a high of 4,071 people in 81 shelters on Oct. 9, just after Hurricane Matthew struck.

Those numbers don’t include people living with friends or family on a temporary basis.

Both Gov. Pat McCrory and FEMA officials say finding housing is a top priority. Possible solutions include hotels that FEMA covers. In some cases, FEMA will cover up to 18 months of rent for apartments or homes.

More than 48,000 people in North Carolina have applied for in individual disaster assistance from FEMA, and the agency has approved more than $33 million of the aid, said agency spokeswoman Hannah Vick.

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AGRICULTURE

Crops threatened by flooding from the storm include soybeans, cotton, peanuts and sweet potatoes, said state Agriculture Department spokesman Brian Long. There isn’t a statewide estimate of crop losses yet, nor have most counties done individual tallies.

“I think there’s some cautious optimism for sweet potatoes. If they didn’t sit underwater for too terribly long, the yield loss may not be as great and the quality loss may not be as great,” Long said.

Poultry losses include about 1.8 million dead birds, with nearly all being chickens, Long said. The state grows about 800 million birds per year. About 2,800 pigs were lost out of about 9 million.

Long also pointed out that many farmers had damage to equipment, barns and homes.

The USDA runs disaster assistance programs for farmers in addition to crop insurance and other outlets for relief they may have.

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CHARITIES

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are helping, as are other charities.

The American Red Cross is using a 10-stage, 50-acre EUE/Screen Gems Studio in Wilmington as district headquarters for disaster relief efforts for 13 counties in the Cape Fear region.

More than 400 volunteers have come through.

“It’s what you do for your neighbors,” Bill Vassar, executive vice president at EUE/Screen Gems, said in a news release.

In Fayetteville, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is preparing for more families who need help with Christmas gifts, The Fayetteville Observer reported.

Stacey Prevette, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army of Fayetteville, said she expects between 450 to 500 additional applications from families to participate in the Angel Tree program, which provides gifts for children of needy families. About 1,250 applications were submitted last year.

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PETS

The ASPCA was caring for 174 animals displaced by Hurricane Matthew at a shelter in St. Pauls in Robeson County as of Friday. More than 60 pets have been reunited with their owners, ASPCA spokeswoman Kelly Krause said in a phone interview.

She says people who can’t get to the shelter can call or send photo of their pet.

Krause says the ASPCA has assisted about 300 pets in North Carolina.

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Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at -https://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc. Her work can be found at -https://bigstory.ap.org/content/martha-waggoner. Follow Jonathan Drew on Twitter: -www.twitter.com/jonldrew


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