North Carolina braces for Florence’s devastating deluge

Vastavam web: Deadly storm Florence drenched North Carolina with more downpours on Sunday, cutting off the coastal city of Wilmington, damaging tens of thousands of homes and threatening worse flooding as rivers fill to the bursting point. Florence, a onetime hurricane that weakened to a tropical depression by Sunday, dumped up to 40 inches (100 cm) of rain on parts of North Carolina since Thursday, and continued to produce widespread heavy rain over much of North Carolina and eastern South Carolina, the National Weather Service said.

Some rivers were not expected to crest until Monday or Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. More than 900 people were rescued from rising floodwaters and 15,000 remained in shelters in the state, Cooper said. South Carolina’s governor issued a similar warning, urging anyone in a flood-prone area to evacuate. The storm killed at least 10 people in North Carolina, including a mother and child killed by a falling tree, state officials said. Six people died in South Carolina, including four in car accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.

“Our roads are flooded, there is no access into Wilmington,” New Hanover County Commission Chairman Woody White told a news conference. “We want you home, but you can’t come yet.” In New Bern, a riverfront city near North Carolina’s coast, the storm tore away porch steps, splintered balconies and sent a yacht plowing into a garage that shattered like kindling. “There’s mud all over the floor and the wood floors have buckled,” she said, adding they planned to return to her brother’s house because of the musty smell that pervades their home.

“We’ve been through hurricanes here but we’ve never had it come anywhere close to this,” she said. On a flooded road near New Bern, Bryan Moore and his nephew Logan decided to go swimming in the floodwaters after having spent days at home without electricity or running water. In Leland, a low-lying city north of Wilmington, homes and businesses were engulfed by water that rose up to 10 feet (3 meters) over Highway 17, submerging stop signs in what local people called unprecedented flooding. The sheriff’s department and volunteers, including locals and some who came from Texas, rescued stranded residents by boat, extracting families, infants, the elderly and pets.

More than 641,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in North and South Carolina and surrounding states, down from a peak of nearly 1 million. Florence set a record in the state for rain from a hurricane, surpassing the previous record of 24 inches (61 cm) set by Hurricane Floyd, which killed 56 people in 1999, said Bryce Link, a meteorologist with private forecasting service DTN Marine Weather. The flooding could taint waterways with murky coal ash. But officials said the state’s many lagoons of toxic hog waste had so far withstood the storm.

By Sunday afternoon, Florence’s winds had dropped to about 35 miles per hour (55 kph), the National Hurricane Center said, with some weakening forecast over the next 24 hours before intensifying once again as an extratropical low-pressure center.The center of the storm was just west of Raleigh, the state capital, and moving north at 14 mph (22 kph), the hurricane center said. The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump, who plans to visit the region this week, tweeted his condolences.