LUMBERTON, N.C. (CBSNewYork) — In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, 31 counties in North Carolina were categorized as federal disaster areas.

At least 15 people in North Carolina died as a result of the storm, and rescue operations are still underway as rivers continue to rise.

Joni Gaddy, 58, did not think she’d make it out alive, CBS News’ Don Champion reports.

“Alligators, snakes and water up to my knees in my house,” she described.

She was trapped in her Lumberton home since Saturday and could not find any help.

“I had signs on my house, I had sheets and towels,” she said. “[I was] screaming at them, and they never stopped.”

Champion spoke to Gaddy moments after her son Gene, who drove from Michigan, rescued her. His clothes were still drenched from braving the chest-high water.

“[I] got halfway there and heard her voice, and that gave me a burst of energy to get to her,” he said. “It’s mom. What would you do? You only get one.”

At least three rivers in North Carolina are expected to reach record levels in the coming days.

Crews use boats, trucks and helicopters for more than 2,000 rescues.

In Moore County, inspectors were working to shore-up the Woodlake Dam.

“You can see visual signs of the concrete that’s fallen into the water. So there’s still a legitimate danger that you can have a serious breach of the dam and it could fail,” Moore County Commissioner Nick Picerno said.

Approximately 200 people who live near the dam were ordered to evacuate the area and were waiting on word as to when they might be allowed back into their homes.

North Carolina investigators were also looking into a shooting death that happened during a rescue operation. Officials said a highway patrol trooper shot and killed a man in Lumberton who pulled out a handgun.

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