Matthew floodwaters trap thousands in N.C.

Matthew flooding rescue
Matthew flooding rescue 02:32

LUMBERTON, N.C. The storm is gone -- but the disaster will continue to unfold for days. On Monday, President Obama declared a major disaster in North Carolina, where hundreds are trapped by floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew.

The storm killed at least 25 people -- nearly half in North Carolina. More than a million homes and businesses in the south are still without power. 

Some rivers are now rising to near record levels.  Overnight, floodwaters topped a levee in Lumberton, North Carolina.

All day on Martin Luther King Drive, rescue teams from at least five states pulled out Lumberton’s stranded residents.

The mayor told us that 1,000 people needed rescuing, many of them elderly, or physically unable to leave on their own. 

Choppers pulled some of them off rooftops. Others came out two to a boat, or by the truckload.

A rescue in Lumberton, North Carolina, after Hurricane Matthew. CBS Evening News

Alex Hayes was rescued with his wife and son.

“It’s a godsend,” Hayes said he when he was rescued. “Been in this town all my life, and never seen it like this. Never.” 

Matthew dumped 15 inches of rain here over the weekend. The nearby Lumber River swelled to 24 feet, almost three times its average, swamping this city of  20,000 people.

Tressica Oxendine and daughter Tressie only had time to stuff three trash bags. “We woke up,” Oxendine said. “It was that deep in water. Had to take and get up on top of the apartments.” They slept on the roof.

“My water is that deep in the house and we lost everything,” Oxendine said. “Everything but just what we brought out here. Clothes and a blanket and a pillow. 

CBS Evening News

In this chaotic scene, more than 100 motorists lined up for gas in Lumberton. Flood relief is now Gov. Pat McCrory’s challenge.

“This is going to be a prolonged hurricane for us, even though the skies are blue,” McCrory said Monday. 

Lumberton’s in for a long week. The river isn’t expected to crest until Friday. 

Lumberton’s curfew could go on for another two weeks. Many people in the city have nowhere to go. This side of Lumberton is congested and lower-income, so finding shelter for them gets harder when buildings have no power or water. About 800 people are in shelters, but the mayor said he is looking to open more. 

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.