Lessons from Matthew: You aren't immune away from coast

We all knew it was coming - but still, the massive storm that threatened heavy winds and record-breaking rains - took some people by surprise.

"Just because you hear tropical storm or hurricane, doesn't mean you're immune hundreds of miles away from the coast," WBTV Meteorologist Al Conklin explains.

Twenty-six people died in North Carolina, all of those fatalities were far inland, where flooding ravaged homes and businesses. Conklin says people weren't prepared to deal with Matthew's torrential rains.

"We still haven't figured out how to get that message to people who are away from the coast," Conklin said. "They hear hurricane, they think beaches, storm tides, hurricane force winds. They don't think the road in front of their house is gonna have 8 feet of water on it."

Conklin says the stigma still exists. But history has taught us the lesson many times - Hurricanes Hugo, Floyd, and Frances - all brought historic flooding hundreds of miles from the coast.

Matthew was just the latest and most deadly reminder… storm safety plans are essential to survival, no matter where you live.

"If we're focusing on a storm the day of, it's too late. When there's sunshine, you need to know the risk at your home. In other words, if there's a creek behind your house, find out how high that water can get. Know where you're gonna go if you have to evacuate quickly. Medication, cash, etc. You gotta think about these things way in advance, not the day of the storm, it's way too late."

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.