RALEIGH A levy breach in Robeson County has left 1,500 residents stranded in Lumberton, forcing rescues by helicopter off of rooftops. More than 1,000 people had already been rescued in Lumberton and 500 structures were already flooded even prior to the levy breach, Gov. Pat McCrory said at a press conference Monday morning from the state Emergency Response Center. A temporary flight restriction over Lumberton is being enforced, including a temporary ban on drones over the area.”Drones are a new technology, but it can be a very dangerous technology right now,” said McCrory. “The last thing we want is a drone hitting a helicopter. If we see drone activity in the area we have to withdraw helicopters and that could be a life or death situation for people.”McCrory confirmed there have been 10 storm-related fatalities. The most recent fatality was in Johnston County where a car drove into flood waters and was swept away. The other fatalities occurred in Rowan, Pitt, Sampson, Harnett and Bladen counties. Five people are still missing, leading the governor to emphasize again that drivers should not attempt to drive through floods. “Not only are you making this life-threatening decision for yourself, you are making it for rescue personnel who will be called upon to save your life,” he said. Courthouses and schools across the eastern part of the state are also closed, with many schools being used as temporary shelters. Clinton, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Halifax, Harnett, Hoke, Franklin, and Wake schools are closed Monday, and Johnston County schools are closed for two days. UNC Wilmington will allow college students to return to campus at noon Monday after a mandatory evacuation on Thursday morning.A million residents were still without power Monday morning. “That’s 10 percent of our population without power in a very small area,” said McCrory. “The power situation is improving, but may get worse as flooding continues.”Road closures across the state led officials to tell travelers to avoid driving through the eastern part of the state if possible and to stay out of downtown Fayetteville where floodwaters are extremely high. Parts of I-95 and I-40 are closed due to flooding, including both directions through Sampson County. Princeville and Kinston are also under mandatory evacuations.”Our major priority is to move local traffic for evacuations. If you are waiting in traffic, do not try to search for your own way around I-95.”Recovery from Matthew across the East Coast is expect to top $10 billion, possibly as high as $25 billion. McCrory reported that federal disaster assistance for the state is forthcoming after he signed the needed documents yesterday. North Carolina has deployed more than 432 members of the National Guard and 151 high water and rescue vehicles, but federal FEMA officials and U.S. military support personnel are on the ground with more headed to N.C. on Monday.”It has been a team effort and it is going to take a team effort to get through this next several weeks,” said McCrory. He also said that the state budget’s $1.6 billion Rainy Day Fund and the $12 million in emergency response fund will be needed as the state coordinates rescue efforts and recovery.””I’d like to thank the state budget director and legislators for not using the dollars in the Rainy Day Fund and emergency response funds when the temptation was great,” he said. Corporations are also lending assistance to the rescue efforts, including the Wal-Mart Foundation, the Coca-Cola Foundation, Arby’s, Lowe’s Home Improvement and others. Those wanting to offer additional assistance should call 1-800-Red-Cross or 1-800-Sal-Army. The N.C. Department of Agriculture has also set up a hotline for the farming community, 1-866-645-9403.
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