Matthew death toll climbs to 18 as it's finally downgraded to a tropical cyclone - but North Carolina remains in danger of 'life-threatening' flash floods after the storm dumps more than a foot of rain
- NC Gov Pat McCrory revealed on Sunday morning that seven people were killed, four still missing
- There were also six reported deaths in Florida, four deaths in Georgia and one in South Carolina
- Matthew was downgraded just before daybreak on Sunday morning as it headed back to the sea
- In North Carolina, Matthew flooded homes and businesses as far as 100 miles inland
- 562 water rescues had to be conducted in Cumberland County alone
After unleashing days of havoc and fear across the Atlantic coast, Matthew has finally been stripped of its hurricane status.
Matthew was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone just before daybreak Sunday morning as it began making its slow exit to the sea.
The storm killed 18 people in the United States as it hit Florida and then traveled up the East Coast, having already left nearly 900 people dead in its wake in Haiti, according to ABC News.
Matthew unloaded more than a foot of rain on North Carolina, its final stop, on Saturday night and flooded homes and businesses as far as 100 miles inland.
It finally moved out to sea around 5am on Sunday and was centered about 60 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, sustaining hurricane-force winds of 75 mph.
President Obama signed major disaster declarations for Florida and Georgia on Sunday morning.
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After unleashing days of havoc and fear across the Atlantic coast, Matthew has finally been stripped of its hurricane status. Pictured are flood waters in Charleston, South Carolina
Matthew was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone just before daybreak Sunday morning but flash floods continue to remain a danger in North Carolina (pictured is Wilmington on Saturday)
Many in North Carolina were left stranded in their cars due to flash flooding caused by Matthew (pictured is Wilmington beside the Cape Fear River on Saturday)
Two North Carolina Army National Guardsmen evacuate residents in Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon
Life-threatening flash floods surprised many in the state on Saturday night, with 562 water rescues being conducted in just Cumberland County alone (pictured is Fayetteville)
Forecasters warned North Carolina residents that there was danger of life-threatening flooding through Monday night
The extent of flooding in the state could be seen Sunday morning, such as in this picture of Lumberton
A man walks through the flooded waters to his home in Lumberton on Sunday morning
North Carolina Gov Pat McCrory revealed on Sunday morning that seven people had been killed during the storm, the highest death toll of any state (pictured is Lumberton on Sunday)
Abandoned cars were spotted dotting the streets of Raleigh as the sun came out and Matthew headed towards the sea
Gov Pat McCrory revealed on Sunday morning that seven people had been killed during the storm, the highest death toll of any state.
Six people have also been killed in Florida, four deaths - all caused by falling trees - were reported in Georgia, and one person has been killed in South Carolina.
McCrory said one person was killed after their vehicle hydroplaned in heavy rain and two others died after their car became submerged in the flood waters.
Another resident drowned after they drove past a barricade and were swept away into a creek.
Life-threatening flash floods surprised many in the state, including 25 vehicles that had to be rescued by highway patrol troopers after becoming stranded on Interstate 95.
And in Brunswick County, about 100 hotel guests had to be taken by bus to a shelter because the main walls of the Comfort Inn Suites were on the verge of collapse.
Matthew was centered about 60 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on Sunday as it moved out to sea
The tropical cyclone was still sustaining hurricane-force winds of 75 mph as of Sunday morning
An abandoned truck lies in submerged waters on Sunday afternoon after Hurricane Matthew hit Lumberton
Pedestrians and drivers navigate rising waters along the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday
A car sits in flood waters due to rain from Hurricane Matthew in Rockingham, North Carolina on Saturday
The extent of Matthew's damage in Florida (pictured is Port Orange), where six people were killed, could be seen on Sunday
Cherie Monroe stands in the sun room of her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Port Orange on Sunday
Monroe's entire roof had been blown off her home as Matthew made its way across the state
Bug Mohani steers his wheelchair along a part of closed A1A highway washed out by the storm in Flagler Beach, Florida
Local residents surveyed the damage caused to their town after Matthew wreaked havoc up the state on Friday
The unofficial rainfall totals in North Carolina were staggering: 18 inches in Wilmington, 14 inches in Fayetteville and 8 inches in Raleigh.
Flooding along the state's Neuse River is expected to reach an all-time high, exceeding the record flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 by more than two feet.
Cape Fear River, Tar River and Cashie River were also expected to near or surpass flood level stages and McRory continued to warn of danger despite the fact that Matthew had downgraded to a Category 1 storm on Saturday.
HURRICANE MATTHEW DEATH TOLL
SOUTH CAROLINA: 1
NORTH CAROLINA: 7
'Most of our concerns right now are inland,' he said. 'We're going to have surges on the major rivers coming into North Carolina, which could cause some serious, serious damage.'
Forecasters said the state as well as Virginia could get even more rain and warned of the danger of life-threatening flooding through Monday night.
While the crisis was far from over in North Carolina, other places to the South began to survey Matthew's damage.
The storm left 2.2million households and businesses without power across the Southeast over the weekend.
South Carolina made up the bulk of that figure, with 746,000 power outages across the state as of early Sunday.
There were more than 670,000 power outages in North Carolina and around 205,000 in Georgia as well.
An especially dramatic rescue in Fayetteville was captured on camera Saturday night when three people became stranded
Crews from the NYPD and New York City Fire Department (FDNY) were able to successfully rescue the three occupants
Florida, which was hit by Matthew on Friday, still has 561, 862 outages as of early Sunday morning but the power is expected to be restored for most customers by the end of the day.
It has been estimated that Matthew, the most powerful hurricane to threaten the Atlantic Seaboard in more than a decade, will end up damaging roughly 1.5million residential and commercial properties in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Property data firm CoreLogic projects that the total damage will cost between $4billion and $6billion in insured losses, anticipating 90 percent of insurance claims will be attributed to storm surges and wind damage from the storm.
On Saturday, Matthew sideswiped two of the South's oldest and most historic cities — Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina and caused levels of flooding that had not been seen since 'the late 1800s', according to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.
Some 20 inches inches of rain was dumped on the state before it made landfall at around 11am in the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge Center near McClellanville.
This aerial photo shows the extent of flooding in Charleston, where high tides caused by Matthew sailed over the city's historical seawall and flooded the streets that were simultaneously being pounded with heavy rains
A resident kayaks in flood waters on Rutledge Avenue after Hurricane Matthew hit Charleston, South Carolina
Four Charleston residents stand on their porch and survey Matthew's damage on Saturday afternoon
Residents of an upscale historic neighborhood wade through flood waters as they return to their home in Charleston
Streets and intersections in the city, which is made up of handsome pre-Civil War homes, church steeples and romantic carriage rides, were flooded in Charleston on Saturday
Charleston was one of the worst-hit cities in South Carolina, with waves rushing over its seawall and through its historic streets on Saturday morning as tides reached historic levels.
A flash flood emergency, reserved only for the most life-threatening situations, was issued by the National Weather Service for areas in South and North Carolina, including their respective cities of Myrtle Beach and Raleigh.
Rainfall totals were at 17.5 inches in Savannah, Georgia by Saturday afternoon and reached almost 15 inches in Beaufort, South Carolina.
The Battery of Charleston, a landmark defensive seawall, could not hold back the waves as the tide rushed in and submerged the promenade of the popular tourist destination.
Streets and intersections in the city, which is made up of handsome pre-Civil War homes, church steeples and romantic carriage rides, were also flooded as the city was pounded with heavy rainfall.
Matthew then shifted course north of Charleston to Myrtle Beach, where multiple houses were also damaged after a reported tornado hit the northern part of the city on Saturday morning.
A homeless woman named Valerie walks along flooded President Street after leaving her camp in Savannah on Saturday
A member of the Pooler Fire Department uses a boat to move residents of homes in a Savannah suburb
An officer from the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department surveys a stranded car in the city's flooded waters
Addie & Richard Schlemmer sit at the deserted City Market in Savannah after a sleepless night following the storm
After pounding North Carolina and drenching parts of Virginia, Matthew is expected to veer out to sea, lose steam and loop back around toward the Bahamas and Florida, where it will likely be too feeble to cause any trouble.
For nearly its entire run up the coast from Florida, Matthew hung just far enough offshore that communities did not feel the full force of its winds.
But the storm still spread devastation across parts of the state, which saw six of its residents killed in Matthew's wake.
An elderly St. Lucie County couple died from carbon monoxide fumes while running a generator in their garage during the storm, while two women were also killed in separate events when trees fell on a home and a camper.
The other two victims could not be reached by emergency services because of the storm after suffering medical conditions in their homes.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the state had suffered an 'unbelievable' amount of beach erosion and fallen trees, but said he was grateful that Matthew had not made landfall.
More than 5,900 people remained in 70 shelters across the state as of Saturday afternoon as many began to survey Matthew's damage and try to resume business as usual.
All four deaths reported in Georgia were caused by trees that had been downed during the worst of the storm
An ambulance responding to a call passes by a truck damaged by a fallen tree on Interstate 16 West in Savannah
Georgia Department of Transportation workers help repair downed street lights and power in Savannah on Sunday
A tree and power lines blown over by Hurricane Matthew lay across a road on St. Simons Island, Georgia on Saturday
It has been estimated that Matthew will end up damaging roughly 1.5million residential and commercial properties in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Pictured here is a home in Savannah
Walt Disney World, which closed for only the fourth time in its 45-year history, reopened its doors on Saturday, as did Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.
Along Daytona Beach's main drag, the Silver Diner had all of its shiny metal siding ripped off the front and sides, leaving only a wood frame exposed.
Next door, the window of a souvenir shop had been blown out and the roof and ceiling torn through, leaving pink insulation dangling.
David Beasley, president of Insurance Recovery Inc., surveyed the damage and said that although it looked bad, the main strip was hit harder by Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances in 2004.
'This is not much compared to those two,' he said.
By hugging the coast, the storm pretty much behaved as forecasters predicted. A shift of just 20 or 30 miles could have meant widespread devastation.
A man leans on a damaged boardwalk at a debris covered beach in St Augustine, Florida on Saturday
A boat is partially submerged in the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach, Florida on Sunday morning
A damaged airplane was found lying upside down at Florida's Ormond Beach Municipal Airport in the aftermath of the storm
'People got incredibly lucky,' Colorado State University meteorology professor Phil Klotzbach. 'It was a super close call.'
While Matthew's wind speed had dropped considerably by the time it hit the Southeast coast, the storm will still go down as one of the most potent hurricanes on record, based on such factors as wind energy and longevity, and as one of the most long-lived major hurricanes, too.
It was a major hurricane — that is, with winds of at least 110 mph — for just over seven days.
And the true extent of Matthew's devastation still remains unknown in Haiti, where at least 470 people died in just one of the country's districts in the hard-hit southwest region.
Fridnel Kedler, coordinator for the Civil Protection Agency in Grand-Anse, said the total death toll - already near 900 - is 'sure to go up' as officials still have not been able to reach two communities in that department three days after the Category 4 storm hit.
Officials are especially concerned about Grand-Anse, located on the northern tip of the southwest peninsula, where they believe the death toll and damage is highest.
Government and UN officials estimate that some 350,000 people in the country need help and the Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for $6.9million to assist with aid.
In this aerial photo, residents of St. Augustine wait along side the road to get clearance to return to their homes on Saturday
A beachfront home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was ravaged by the storm, the wall of its living room ripped clean off
The roof of an adjacent condominium building lies on top of the roof of La Bella Inn in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew
Workers clean debris caused by Hurricane Matthew at a resort in Daytona Beach, Florida on Saturday
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