Hurricane Florence: At least 10 dead, Carolinas brace for widespread flooding

Kerry GarnerSep 18, 2018

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: "This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches".

In New Bern, a riverfront city near North Carolina's coast, Bryan Moore and his nephew Logan did exactly what authorities warned against: they left their homes to go swimming in the floodwaters after having spent days at home without electricity or running water.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said it was too early to estimate how many people in the state would be made homeless by the storm.

With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, around 50 stranded people had been airlifted out by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard.

Three died in one inland county, Duplin, because of water on roads and flash floods, the sheriff's office said. Another person was arrested for allegedly looting an Exxon gas station and convenience store.

At 5 am Sunday, Florence was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Columbia, South Carolina. Some other parts of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said. The previous record was 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.

Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River. The woman called for help, but died of a heart attack because emergency crews were unable to reach her because of trees that had fallen in the road.

The doors of many homes suffered so much wind damage they appeared to have been kicked in, while the city's beloved fiber-glass bear statues, which are sponsored by local businesses, were floating down streets.

Two more people were killed in Lenoir County, NC. Parts of southeastern North Carolina could see up to 40 inches before the rain ends Monday.

- Two people died in a storm-related fire in Cumberland County, North Carolina.

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A 61-year-old woman died in SC when the vehicle she was driving hit a fallen tree on Highway 18 near Union, The Associated Press reported. Six people died in SC, including four in vehicle accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas. That will bring additional water to the already-soaked states as well as additional threats like possible landslides near the Appalachians and electrocution threats with downed power lines.

Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the coastline for days.

Torrential rain from Florence is now causing rapid rises in area rivers.

Downgraded to a Tropical Storm, its core is now drifting westward over SC, threatening more flash floods and major river flooding. During Matthew, it reached 58 feet. Right on the coast, though, Mr. Yando said the flood water definitely can be unsafe.

Kevin Knox and his family were rescued by boat from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sergeant Johan Mackie, whose team used a phone app to locate people in distress.

"This is for real", Mayor Mitch Colvin said during the press conference.

"Right now, we are thinking that there will tens of thousands of homes that are going to be damaged", he said.

The issues prompted North Carolina to tell drivers coming down Interstate 95 from Virginia to go around - the entire state.

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