Published: 2016-10-10 12:22:00
Updated: 2016-10-10 17:09:02
Posted October 10, 2016
Smithfield, N.C. — Standing water closed U.S. Highway 70 into Smithfield Monday, and lots of businesses on the town's East Market Street were flooded.
"I've never seen it this bad, not even during Floyd," said Stephen Gaddis.
Arnold Mclain, who's lived in Smithfield 50 years, said the Neuse River was higher than he'd ever seen.
"I've seen it flood along the river, but never over here," he said.
Emergency personnel, too, were surprised by the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew, and they were keeping busy helping others surprised by the high water.
Crews had rescued more than 200 people where rising water had them stranded, most of them from vehicles, County Emergency Management Director John Holloman said.
Karen Witherspoon found herself forced into service when another driver tried to forge the high water.
"She tried to drive through the water. We turned around and followed her because we knew she wasn't going to make it. The minute she got in the water, her car stalled, and she walked out, and we took her in and pulled her car out for her," Witherspoon said.
Many roads across Johnston County were washed out. After the water recedes, county leaders say, they will have to be evaluated for structural damage before traffic can return.
Two of the 10 statewide deaths attributed to Hurricane Matthew happened in the county on Sunday as drivers tried to negotiate flood conditions. One driver trying to cross a flood-covered bridge on Interstate 95 was swept away. A car carrying five people ran off the road at N.C. Highway 42 and Cornwallis Road. Four passengers in that car were rescued on Sunday. Four passengers in that car were rescued on Sunday. Crews were able to get the body of the remaining person out of the car Monday.
Authorities have not released the identity of either of the dead.
Johnston County public schools will be closed Tuesday for a second day. The school administration building, which housed the computer data center, is among the buildings under water, and a spokeswoman said no one had been able to assess the damage there.
With flood water all around, about a third of Johnson County residents are without any to drink or bathe in.
Those who did have running water were urged to boil it to destroy any bacteria that can get in the system as a result of low pressure in pumps. In Clayton's Riverwood area, it could be days before water service is restored.