As the death toll from Florence mounted and hundreds were pulled from flooded homes, North Carolina is bracing for the next stage of disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding.
- Motorists who would ordinarily travel through North Carolina are still being asked to stay out because of poor road conditions in the aftermath of Florence.
A man tries to corral escaped horses in the floodwater caused by Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina. Emergency officials say they plan to airlift food and water to the beleaguered city of almost 120,000 people.
"Our roads are flooded, there is no access into Wilmington", New Hanover County Commission Chairman Woody White told a news conference.
As rivers keep rising and rain keeps falling, the flooding will spread.
President Trump declared a state of emergency in SC on Monday ahead of the storm, which moved into the state late Friday.
About 70 miles away from the coast, residents near the Lumber River stepped from their homes directly into boats floating in their front yards; river forecasts showed the scene could be repeated in towns as far as 250 miles inland as waters rise for days. Radar showed parts of the sprawling storm over six states, with North and SC in the bull's-eye. More than 2.4 million people were evacuated from China's southern Guangdong province ahead of the massive typhoon, the strongest to hit the region in almost two decades.
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 SC, the National Weather Service said.
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At least four people have been killed in the storm as of Friday evening, including a mother and her infant child. That's when things got comical, as two men casually walked in the background like nothing was happening.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says rainfall from Florence continues to cause "extreme flooding" and warned of unsafe roads.
Florence weakened to a tropical depression early Sunday after blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 miles per hour (145 kph) winds on Friday, Florence was still spinning slowly atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore.
As the storm barreled down on the Carolinas Friday, the risk of flooding was already high. Utilities said some outages could last for weeks.
"I have everything I need for my whole family", Merlos said.
"We know that children have been ripped from the lives that they knew, and they're unsure of what the future may hold", Thompson said. When the sun finally comes out later this week, it's going to take all the damage a long time to dry out. The Defense Department said about 13,500 military personnel had been assigned to help relief efforts. Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within 1.6 km of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 160 km from the North Carolina coast. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.
In Leland, a low-lying city north of Wilmington, homes and local businesses were engulfed by water yesterday.
"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're dealing with some very, very tough situations with respect to the impassable roads coming into the city of Wilmington", Mayor Bill Saffo told residents on Twitter.