Hundreds stranded in North Carolina floods after Hurricane Matthew

LUMBERTON, N.C. (Reuters) - Hundreds of people were rescued by boat and helicopter as floodwaters inundated North Carolina towns on Monday in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, and officials warned that life-threatening flooding from swollen rivers would continue for days.

Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007, was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday.

The hurricane killed around 1,000 people in Haiti and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday some Haitian towns and villages had just about been "wiped off the map."

SEE ALSO: Hurricane Matthew pounded NASA and SpaceX buildings in Florida — here's what some of the damage looks like

In the United States, the number of fatalities rose to at least 23, with nearly half in North Carolina.

North Carolina's skies were clear on Monday after the state received as much as 18 inches (39 cm) of rain from Matthew over the weekend, but raging rivers and breached levees posed major problems.

"This storm is not over in North Carolina," Governor Pat McCrory told reporters in Fayetteville. "It's going to be a long, tough journey."

Eleven people have died in the state, officials said. With rivers rising, the governor said he expected deaths to increase.

26 PHOTOS
Aerial photos show North Carolina flooding from Hurricane Matthew
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Aerial photos show North Carolina flooding from Hurricane Matthew
A group of people are seen walking through flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view shows a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A swift water rescue team is seen making its way through a flooded area after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A tractor trailer is seen in flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
Fuel tanks are seen after flood waters rose due to Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A boat is seen carrying residents from a flooded area after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A man walks through flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An aerial view shows a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A boat is seen in the flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
Homes are seen underwater after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A home is seen under water after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A national guard vehicle is seen driving through a flooded street after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A car drives through flood waters along interstate 95 after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view shows flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of the flood after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
People are seen walking on an elevated path as flood waters surround them after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view shows flood waters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of the flood after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of the flood after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A swift water rescue team is seen making its way through a flooded area after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A swift water rescue team is seen making its way through a flooded area after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An areal view shows a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
An aerial view of a neighborhood that was flooded after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, North Carolina October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
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The flooding prompted President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency in North Carolina on Monday, making federal funding available to affected individuals in 10 counties hit by the storm, the White House said in a statement.

Some 2,000 residents were stuck in their homes and on rooftops in Lumberton, off the Lumber River, after the city flooded suddenly on Monday morning, McCrory said. Air and water rescues would continue throughout the day, he said.

Many of the homes and businesses in Lumberton were flooded with several feet of water on Monday afternoon and residents were seen paddling about the town in small skiffs.

Major flooding was expected this week in central and eastern towns along the Lumber, Cape Fear, Neuse and Tar rivers. The National Weather Service said the Neuse River would crest on Friday night and forecast "disastrous flooding."

Emergency officials in North Carolina's Lenoir County issued a mandatory evacuation order on Monday afternoon for residents and businesses along the Neuse River.

"IT BREAKS YOUR HEART"

Many coastal and inland communities remained under water from storm surge or overrun rivers and creeks.

McCrory told reporters that he had met an elderly woman at a shelter on Monday who lost everything to floods.

"She's sitting in a school cafeteria at this point in time crying and wondering what her life is going to be all about," he said. "It breaks your heart."

In neighboring South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley warned that waterways were quickly reaching capacity around the state.

"What might not be flooded today could be flooded tomorrow," Haley told a news conference.

She said there had been at least three storm-related deaths, including one in which a person in a vehicle was swept away by floodwaters.

Warnings were also issued over downed power lines. An 89-year-old man was killed in Florida on Monday after touching a downed line, officials said.

About 715,000 homes and businesses were without power on Monday night in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Virginia.

A federal judge on Monday granted a request from Florida's Democratic Party to extend the state's voter registration deadline by one more day, through Wednesday, because of the hurricane. Republican Governor Rick Scott had rejected demands from Democrats to extend the deadline.

A hurricane watch was issued for Bermuda, which could be threatened by another tropical system, Nicole, that is expected to reach the Atlantic island later this week, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Related: A grim look at the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti:

28 PHOTOS
Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba
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Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba
A man cuts branches off fallen trees in a flooded area by a river after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman stans by debris after the passage of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man fixes a roof of a partially built house after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Siline Crossaint poses for portrait inside her house, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A Haitian migrant is seen as a child rests inside a shelter, after leaving Brazil, where they were relocated to due to Haiti's 2010 earthquake, in Mexicali, Mexico, October 5, 2016. Picture taken October 5, 2016 REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A Haitian migrant walks near garbage at the Hotel del Migrante shelter after leaving Brazil, where she relocated to after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, in Mexicali, Mexico, October 5, 2016. Picture taken October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Isma Nadenje poses for a portrait inside her house, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A girl cries as she stays with her relatives at a partially destroyed school after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man stands next to a destroyed house after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People walk down the streets next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A flooded river is seen after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People walk down the street next to destroyed houses and fallen trees after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A worker removes branches from the ground at the airport after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man works with damaged property in the Carbonera community of Guantanamo, Cuba following Hurricane Matthew, October 5, 2016. The storm slammed into Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane on October 4, 2016 but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Its winds were howling at 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour). / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Children are seen before damaged property in the Carbonera community of Guantanamo, Cuba following Hurricane Matthew, October 5, 2016. The storm slammed into Haiti and Cuba as a Category Four hurricane on October 4, 2016 but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). Its winds were howling at 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour). / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man is carried across the river La Digue in Petit Goave where the bridge collapsed during the rains of the Hurricane Matthew, southwest of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016. Haiti and the eastern tip of Cuba -- blasted by Matthew on October 4, 2016 -- began the messy and probably grim task of assessing the storm's toll. Matthew hit them as a Category Four hurricane but has since been downgraded to three, on a scale of five, by the US National Hurricane Center. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A boat is seen inside a destroyed house next to the sea after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Part of a boat is seen on a street next to the sea after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Residents walk on a street after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man clears debris after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man cleans out the water from his flooded house after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Women sit at the entrance of a house damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man walks in a flooded street, in a neighbourhood of the commune of Cite Soleil, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on October 4, 2016. Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti, triggering floods and forcing thousands to flee the path of a storm that has already claimed three lives in the poorest country in the Americas. / AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents observe an overflowing Guaso river in the Guantanamo province, on October 4, 2016. The most menacing storm in the Caribbean in nearly a decade, Matthew began battering Haiti late Monday with strong winds and rising sea levels, before barreling ashore some 250 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince. / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Picture taken on October 5, 2016 showing the state in which a road between Guantanamo and Baracoa was left after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of two siblings who died when a landslide knocked the walls of their house down during the passage of Hurricane Matthew, sits in the window of a house in the neighbourhood of Capotillo, in Santo Domingo on October 4, 2016. Matthew, a Category Four hurricane, slammed into the Dominican Republic and Haiti Tuesday, triggering major floods and forcing thousands to flee the path of the storm that has claimed at least three lives in each country. / AFP / afp / Erika SANTELICES (Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)
A child stands on a street, after Hurricane Matthew passes Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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