Rain batters homes as the eye of Hurricane Matthew passes Daytona Beach, Florida Reuters

At least 17 people have died after powerful hurricane Matthew battered North and South Carolina with torrential rain, strong winds and severe flooding.

On Sunday, the weakened storm finally headed out to the sea leaving behind a trail of mass destruction from the Caribbean up the US Southeast coast.

Matthew hit Carolina and Florida after it swept through Haiti last week. Nearly 900 people were killed and more than 60,000 were displaced after the storm heavily bore down on Haiti, the poorest American country, after gathering strength while spinning across the Caribbean Sea. However, it was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on 9 October.

On 7 October, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida as it prepared for severe blows from the most powerful Atlantic tropical storm in almost a decade.

People in the coastal areas were most affected by the storm due to devastating surges. Also, several inland communities are still under water after many rivers swelled up and flooded the surroundings. More than two million US homes and businesses lost power and daily life came to a complete standstill.

North Carolina Army National Guardsmen and local emergency services assist with evacuation efforts in flooded neighborhood in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S. on October 8, 2016. Reuters

Moreover, according to Reuters, fire marshal for the city of Fayetteville Michael Martin said several dams have been breached in the area around Cumberland County, south of Raleigh.

Full-fledged rescue operations are underway in the affected areas.

Swift-water rescue teams are on alert and have picked up nearly 1,000 people from flooded areas.

"Hurricane Matthew is off the map, but it is still with us and it is still deadly," Governor McCrory said fearing that the death toll would rise, according to Reuters.

McCrory, according to the Wall Street Journal, expressed frustration that people are taking Matthew lightly as it had become less severe over the weekend. "It has been extremely dangerous, and it continues to be extremely dangerous," he said, as reported by the news portal.

"This is going to be a prolonged event," added the governor.

Flood waters fill a destroyed section of Highway 701 after Hurricane Matthew hit the state, outside Whiteville, North Carolina October 9, 2016. Reuters

Emergency workers are also carrying out additional rescue operations in rural areas where victims are unable to dial 911 emergency number.

More than 300,000 customers lost power in Virginia. The city of Norfolk declared a state of emergency and urged its citizens to remain off the road, while the city of Virginia Beach closed all recreation centres, including libraries and parks. The Virginia Aquarium was also shut down, reported Reuters.