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Death toll rises in North Carolina as dangerous river flooding following Matthew forces thousands to evacuate

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The slow-moving river flooding disaster in the eastern parts of the Carolinas, brought on by torrential rainfall from Hurricane Matthew, will continue through the third week of October.

While millions fled the wind, storm surge and flash flooding as directed by officials in advance of Matthew, major river flooding that followed has extended the threats to lives and property.

Hurricane Matthew killed at least 34 people in the United States, ABC News reports. Nineteen fatalities have been reported in North Carolina alone, according to Gov. Pat McCrory. The causes of the fatalities range from drowning to fallen trees and carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of generators.

President Barack Obama recently declared portions of North Carolina a major federal disaster caused by Hurricane Matthew. The declaration follows the same for parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The declarations aid states with cleanup and could pave the way for individual assistance.

A lineman works to restore power lines near I-95 after the area was flooded by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)

As hundreds of thousands have been allow to return to their homes and businesses in coastal areas of southeastern United States, thousands of others well inland have been urged to evacuate due to rising river waters.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, more than 2,000 people have been rescued by boat and more than two dozen have been rescued by helicopter in North Carolina alone, according to Gov. McCrory's office. Rescues and evacuations are ongoing as waters continue to rise in some communities as of midweek.

Schools in nearly 40 of North Carolina's 100 counties remain closed due to the flooding, displacement and recovery efforts. About 4,300 people remain in shelters, some of which are located in school auditoriums and gymnasiums in the state.

An 18-mile stretch of Interstate 95 remains closed due to flooding near hard-hit Lumberton, North Carolina, as of Wednesday. A detour was in place to re-route traffic.

Despite sunny weather in the wake of the hurricane, the amount of water moving slowly down the meandering rivers in the coastal plains of the Carolinas will take many more days to cycle through.

While rivers in the middle portions of the Carolinas are in recession, the lower portions of the Waccamaw, Lumber, Neuse, and Tar rivers in North Carolina and Little Pee Dee River in South Carolina may not fall below flood stage until the end of the month. Major flooding will continue along parts of these same rivers into next week.

Most areas that were experiencing river flooding as of the middle of this week will remain free of rain until the latter part of next week.

"Potential tropical activity in the Caribbean could drift toward the Gulf of Mexico prior to the end of the month," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

The combination of a front from the Central U.S., combined with tropical moisture could lead to locally drenching downpours in part of the Southeastern states toward during the last week of the month, Pastelok stated.

Despite the days of dry weather ahead, the area will remain vulnerable for any future heavy rainfall events.