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Waters rise across the state; swollen rivers remain a threat for flooding, officials warn

By Jonathan Drew

Associated Press

RALEIGH — North Carolina residents were paying attention to rising rivers Tuesday after storms gave the state its worst drenching since a damaging hurricane late last year.

The state’s heaviest rainfall since Hurricane Matthew caused flooding in the state’s capital. Downstream waters were rising along the Neuse River near Clayton and Smithfield and along the Tar River in Tarboro and Greenville. Gauges in those areas indicate the rivers will crest above flood stage but below the levels caused by Matthew.

In Cabarrus County, a home was seriously damaged when a large tree fell on it Monday during heavy rains. No one was hurt.

“I heard a crack and then a noise that went ‘bam’ but didn’t seem that loud. Then all of a sudden, the ceiling and ceiling tiles and insulation was falling all around me,” Diane Davis, who was home with her husband at the time, told WBTV.

Raleigh firefighters used inflatable rafts to rescue two people and a dog stranded in a home and four people stranded in another apartment Tuesday, Battalion Chief Jeff Harrison said.

In Smithfield, a body was found in the Neuse by a crew cleaning storm debris, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the death was caused by the weather.

“We know floodwaters can be deadly, and I urge everyone to be cautious and stay safe,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release.

The National Weather Service said more than 8 inches of rain had fallen in areas near Raleigh by Tuesday morning.

Other areas in central North Carolina had several inches.

The sun was out by early afternoon in Raleigh, and radar images indicated the storms had largely passed through the state. Still, flood warnings remained in effect.

Duke Energy reported Tuesday afternoon that it had restored power to all but about 1,000 customers who lost it in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Transportation officials reported more than 100 road closures across the state Tuesday, but some reopened in the afternoon.

Near downtown Smithfield, a maintenance crew cleaning storm debris from a bridge over the Neuse found a body, state Department of Transportation spokesman Robert Broome said.

It took until late afternoon to recover the body because of fast-moving water, Smithfield town spokesman Tim Kerigan said in an email.

The Smithfield Police Department said the body was sent to the state medical examiner but offered no more details.

A creek overflowed its banks and flooded streets and parking lots near Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, an area prone to flooding. The mall was closed in the morning, but some stores or restaurants planned to open later.

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