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North Carolina Still Reeling Days After Hurricane Matthew


Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, but floodwaters continue to rise in North Carolina. Some rivers have already overflowed their banks. Others are expected to crest later this week. Jess Clark of member station WUNC went to Greenville, N.C., where thousands of people have been told they must leave.

CORNISH: The Tar River cuts right through the city of Greenville, but it doesn't usually cut through Steve Johnson's backyard. Johnson has been under a mandatory evacuation since Sunday, camped out in a crowded hotel.

STEVE JOHNSON: I wasn't prepared for flooding. You know, I don't think anyone ever is. I was prepared for the hurricane. I was even prepared to leave if something happened during the hurricane 'cause I'm always watching trees and seeing if something's going to fall regarding the trees. But you know, I wasn't prepared for flooding. You just never know how that's going to turn.

JESS CLARK, BYLINE: Greenville is a city of 90,000 about an hour and a half east of Raleigh. It's one of many places in this part of the state grappling with what's being called a worsening slow-moving disaster. Police have blocked off Johnson's street with cones and yellow caution tape, but he's come back to check on his home.

JOHNSON: Normally you can see where the river is running. That's how far I'm from it (laughter). And you see where it is now.

CLARK: Oh, my gosh.

JOHNSON: Yeah, and if you look over here at the neighbor's house, it's a lot worse actually in my opinion.

CLARK: One of those houses belongs to Seth Rogers. The river is flowing under his deck. Rodgers has sealed the outside vents and piled almost 800 sandbags around this house and several others that he rents out along the river.

SETH ROGERS: We've done everything in our power to try to prevent the water from coming in.

CLARK: Water is already in the basement here. Rogers says he's hoping it won't get any worse, but the Tar River is expected to rise another 4 feet before it crests in a few days. Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas hopes the water won't get that high. He spoke before hundreds who gathered to pray the flood away.


ALLEN THOMAS: I believe just as faith can move mountains, faith can move these waters.


THOMAS: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

CLARK: Faith leaders led the crowd in prayer on a bridge over the Tar River. Before they said their final amen, National Guard and giant military trucks rolled across the bridge. They were coming from the other side of the river where many homes, churches and businesses are already flooded out.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: And deliver us from evil.

CLARK: For NPR News, I'm Jess Clark in Greenville, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.