Florence floods cuts off Wilmington, NC, as killer storm moves northeast
18 September, 2018, 02:37 | Author: Tara Reeves
A baby boy is among 17 people killed as rain and flooding from storm Florence continues to cause chaos in the US.
Deadly storm Florence drenched North Carolina with yet more downpours on Sunday, cutting off the city of Wilmington, damaging tens of thousands of homes and threatening worse flooding as rivers fill to bursting point.
WILMINGTON, N.C. With Wilmington cut off from the rest of North Carolina by still-rising floodwaters from Florence, officials plan to airlift food and water to the city of almost 120,000 people as rescuers elsewhere pull inland residents from homes swamped by swollen rivers.
"I can not overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them, you are risking your life", Governor Roy Cooper said.
In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina.
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.
About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.
The boy's father and mother were home but escaped unhurt.
The cost of the damage is expected to reach $15 billion for North Carolina, $2 billion for SC and $1 billion elsewhere, said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. Radar showed parts of the sprawling storm over six states, with North and SC at the centre.
Trump previously declared states of emergency in North and SC, and Virginia to the north.
Five people were arrested for breaking into a Dollar General Store, said the police department in Wilmington, which has imposed a nighttime curfew. Southbound I-95 lanes also were closed between Exits 81 and 65 in North Carolina.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. "Our citizens in Trent Court have been flooded and they need our help and assistance", said Bengel, who noted that many businesses downtown had also been impacted.
"If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water", he said.
The storm's death toll climbed to 14 when a man drowned after a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch along a flooded road in SC.
The death toll from Florence rose to at least 20, and crews elsewhere used helicopters and boats to rescue people trapped by still-rising rivers.
"Our city has suffered obviously one of the most devastating storms in its 308 year history", New Bern city manager Mark Stephens said at a news conference Monday. The flooding could presist for several weeks in some areas.
"The waters are not rising anywhere near as fast, at least around the water plant, as they did during Matthew", Walters said.
Rescue team member Sgt. Nick Muhar, from the North Carolina National Guard 1/120th battalion, evacuates a young child as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threatens his home in New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate homes along rivers.
More than 450 people had to be rescued from swirling flood water over the weekend. Relatives say that whether they stay or go, they'll have damage to contend with.
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