Florence: Flooding to swamp Carolinas for days - or even weeks

Minnie Murray
September 19, 2018

"Most main-stem rivers across central N.C. will flood", the National Weather Service office in Raleigh said on Monday, adding, "the Neuse, Cape Fear, Haw, Deep, Rocky and Little Rivers are now in flood".

About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials.

Heavy rainfall is expected to pour down on the mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, which could lead to more flash flooding and the possibility of landslides.

Of the 31 known deaths Monday evening since the massive storm made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, 24 occurred in North Carolina, six in SC and one in Virginia. He has been criticized for his handling of Hurricane Maria, which devastate Puerto Rico a year ago, and more recently for disputing the official death toll of 3,000. Forecasters said it was expected to continue toward the Northeast, which is in for as much as 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain, before the system moves offshore again.

Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of SC, said the hurricane center and National Weather Service "have not done a good job at communicating the risks associated with tropical systems beyond winds".

Michael Jordan, who grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, close to where Florence came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, has donated $2 million to relief and recovery agencies. That has led officials to direct residents to stay off the roads or to check state transportation websites for updates.

The rain finally stopped and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days.

Several large rivers and creeks have broken their banks, threatening homes with further damage after the tropical depression Florence, once a major hurricane, made landfall over in North Carolina on Friday. "Many roads in our state are still at risk of floods", the governor said. More than 60 percent of homes and businesses were without power, and crews have completed about 700 rescues in the county where Wilmington is located.

The mother had driven around barricades on a closed stretch of road, the post said.

About 509,000 homes and businesses were without electricity on Monday in North and SC and surrounding states. But with the Neuse River still rising, additional road closures are still possible around Goldsboro and Kinston.

President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina, the White House said Saturday. But it wasn't clear if that the route would remain open as the Cape Fear River kept swelling.

It's only going to be more necessary in the future because global warming is making hurricanes wetter and slower, so they drop more rain, Shepherd said.

A mobile medical truck was dispatched from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Pender County, just north of Wilmington, to assist residents affected by Florence after the local hospital, Pender Memorial, was flooded and evacuated.

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