Five dead in Carolinas as Florence brings ´epic´ floods

Pablo Tucker
September 16, 2018

NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

The Cape Fear River near Fayetteville is projected to rise nearly 45 feet (14 metres) to 62 feet (19 metres) by Tuesday. Authorities began swift-water boat rescues before dawn, and the activity picked up as water continued to rise.

Other areas throughout the region reported flooded and impassable roads, downed trees and power lines and power outages of more than 125,000 customers.

The huge levels of rainfall are a result of the storm surge created by the unsafe tropical weather, which has claimed the lives of 11 people.

Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the "Cajun Navy" - civilians equipped with light boats, canoes and air mattresses - who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues.

"We just don't want people to think this is over because it's not".

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division called the insurance rumor "FALSE" over social media, saying that the claim had spread to SC residents.

And the deluge is not even close to over - parts of North Carolina are set to receiveanother 15 inches of rainin the coming days, according to The National Weather Service. That, and the storm's vast circumference of hundreds of miles, means Wilmington will be inundated with rain, the advisory said.

"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late last Friday.

It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. Areas further inland through southwest Virginia could see as much as 15 inches of rainfall.

Some parts of Burgaw commonly flood during heavy rains, and officials went to those parts before Florence's arrival to tell residents there to evacuate.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

The storm's intensity held at about 90 miles per hour (144 kph), and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore. "But we're still in the throes of it". The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to rise over their banks, flooding cities and towns. This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: "in some places, measured in feet, not inches". Seventy people had to be pulled from a collapsing hotel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

"If it goes up to my front step, I have to get out", Quinton Washington said. The city said two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way.

Under a vehicle port on Route 117 South in Burgaw, Kevin Everett's family cooked pancakes and bacon on a charcoal grill. "We're trying to educate and protect Floridians so they don't fall victim to Irma for a second time".

But for now, "we're going to try to ride it out as long as we can", he said.

In other parts of the state, those who chose to stay behind and ride out the storm needed rescuing as the storm stalled. The city tweeted early September 14 that 150 people were awaiting rescue.

"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said.

They have made clear that this event is all about the water - which the storm has delivered in devastating quantity.

Other reports by iNewsToday