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500 Rescued from North Carolina Floods as Matthew Churns On

Alastair Jamieson, NBC News
Water floods the streets on and around Broad Street in the wake of Hurricane Matthew on October 8, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina. Across the Southeast, Over 1.4 million people have lost power due to Hurricane Matthew which has been downgraded to a category 1 hurricane on Saturday morning.
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At least seven people were killed in North Carolina by Hurricane Matthew's destructive forces, bringing the storm's death toll to 15 across three southeastern states, authorities said Sunday morning.

More than 500 flooded residents were rescued overnight in North Carolina and more than two million businesses and homes still without power along the southeastern seaboard as Matthew continued to batter the Atlantic coast with 75 mph winds even as it was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.

"This is an extremely dangerous situation," North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said during a Sunday morning news conference. "We have neighborhoods underwater. I am praying we don't find people who were swept away."

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A man walks through a flooded street as Hurricane Matthew passes through the area on October 7, 2016 in St Augustine, Florida.
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The unofficial rainfall totals were already staggering: 18 inches in Wilmington, 14 inches in Fayetteville and 8 inches in Raleigh.

The Fayetteville, North Carolina, Emergency Operations Center said response teams rescued 574 people overnight in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County areas while 503 people were being housed in area shelters. The center said four people were missing in the county. It was unclear if any of the missing people were counted among the dead.

Nearly 815,000 customers across the state were without power, according to the state's emergency management office.

Dramatic video was released of a mother and baby being rescued from a flood-stricken vehicle.

At 8:00 a.m. EST Sunday, the storm was about 60 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and headed northeast at 14 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

The center of the storm was set to move south of the North Carolina coast Sunday and well east of the state later in the day as it weakens.

Forecasters said widespread flooding was possible from heavy rain, up to 20 inches, storm surges and high tides along the East Coast.

"We are looking at very significant flooding. Almost every road in the city is impassable," Virginia Beach spokeswoman Erin Sutton told the Weather Channel from the city of almost 500,000 people between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Matthew, which days ago briefly topped out as a ferocious Category 5 storm, made U.S. landfall on Saturday near McClellanville, South Carolina, a village 30 miles north of Charleston.

The storm has been blamed for at least 15 deaths so far in the United States — five in Florida, seven in North Carolina and three in Georgia. More than 2 million households and businesses were without power, most in Florida and South Carolina.

President Barack Obama signed disaster declarations for Florida and Georgia on Sunday morning.

Damage in the United States, however, was much less than in Haiti, where Matthew took nearly 900 lives. At least 13 people on the Caribbean island have also died from outbreaks of cholera since the storm, and around 61,500 people were in shelters, officials said.