Florence Punishes Carolinas with Rain, Flooding, 8 Dead
Florence dumped huge amounts of rain on North and South Carolina as it blew inland Saturday, triggering dangerous flooding, knocking out power in nearly 900,000 homes and businesses, and causing at least 8 deaths so far.
Florence’s intensity has diminished since it roared ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane. But its slow move over the 2 states, crawling west at only 2 mph, threatens to leave large parts of the region deluged in the coming days.
“This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing. His state has already endured record rainfall totals, with much more expected to come from the storm that forecasters said was 300 miles wide.
“This is a hurricane event followed by a flood event,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
With flood waters rising rapidly in many communities, stranded people were being rescued by boat and by helicopter, while tens of thousands of others hunkered down in shelters. Numerous roads were closed, and authorities warned of potential landslides, as well the possibility of flood waters imperiling dams and bridges as rivers and creeks swelled.
Utility crews worked to restore electricity even as flood waters inundated whole communities.
As of Saturday afternoon, about 752,000 people remained without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in South Carolina.
That there have not been more deaths and damage is amazing and a blessing
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 ins of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern South Carolina, as well as up to 10 ins in southwestern Virginia.
Fayetteville, a city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles inland, issued a mandatory evacuation order for thousands of residents near Cape Fear River because of flooding. Fort Bragg, a huge US Army base, is just west of Fayetteville.
Governor Cooper advised North Carolina residents inland that rivers will rise days after the rain has stopped. Officials said there had been at least 7 storm-related fatalities in the state.
Authorities in South Carolina reported 1 death, saying a woman was killed when her vehicle struck a fallen tree.