Published: 2016-10-17 12:58:00
Updated: 2016-10-17 12:59:49
Posted October 17, 2016
New Bern, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory visited New Bern Monday to provide an update on the state's recovery effort from Hurricane Matthew.
It has now been more than a week since Matthew hit the state, killing at least 26 people in North Carolina, most in vehicle-related accidents. State officials estimate the flooding has caused $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings.
In Monday's conference, the governor announced that there have been no additional storm-related deaths in the state since his last briefing. To make sure no one else dies, he said, it's important to make sure no one attempts to drive through the floodwaters.
"People have been moving barricades or driving past them, and that is how people die," he said.
The governor also stressed that walking through flood water is not safe. "Don't let it touch your skin," he said. "It is extremely polluted."
Though no additional storm-related deaths have been reported in North Carolina, the governor stressed various other concerns that have a serious impact on the state.
"I'm very concerned about Matthew's impact on the agricultural community," said the governor. "Our sweet potato and cotton farmers, as well as our poultry industry, have all been affected."
The financial impacts on the agricultural industry will likely be major, the governor said, but the overall impact may not be known for years.
Many rivers, including the Cape Fear, the Neuse, the Lumber and the Tar have officially crested, the governor announced, and water levels should start to decrease. "The primary focus at this time is getting people in hotels and temporary housing," he said.
The state transportation department said flooding and debris closed many roads in the eastern and central parts of North Carolina. One of the largest closures was a portion of Interstate 95. In Monday's press conference, Gov. McCrory announced that Interstate 95 has reopened in both directions between Fayetteville and Lumberton.
"This has a tremendous impact on Cumberland County," he said.
The governor closed with an important reminder. "It's a warm, sunny day outside," he said. "But a beautiful day does not mean we're safe. If there is water, there is danger."