FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — On Monday, amid a mandatory evacuation order, residents of this inland city of around 200,000 flocked to a bridge east of town to gaze at the rapidly rising Cape Fear River.

Under the first blue skies in days, they took pictures of large trees and other debris that made its way south down a wide and muddy river toward the Atlantic coast. And they were reminded of the devastating scenes less than two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, when the town was severely flooded and hundreds of residents had to be rescued from inundated buildings.

“I came [here] for Matthew,” said Laura Walters, a lifelong Fayetteville resident, as she looked out over the raging river with her dog. “Just watching it, you know, it’s history.”

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