11 Dead, ‘Catastrophic Flooding’ as Florence Pounds Carolinas

At least 11 people were dead and almost a million homes and businesses were without power Saturday as Tropical Storm Florence forced massive evacuations and flooded wide areas of the U.S. South.

USA

16 September 2018, 05:41

VOA News

The National Hurricane Center said the storm’s «heavy rains and catastrophic flooding continue across portions of North and South Carolina.» While the winds had eased, the slow movement of the storm meant there was plenty of time for Florence to dump still more rain into already swollen rivers.

More than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 11/2 feet (45 centimeters) by the end of the weekend.

Forecasters also said the storm could kick up a few tornadoes on its trek across the region.

A damaged house is seen after Tropical Storm Florence struck in Winnabow, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018.
A damaged house is seen after Tropical Storm Florence struck in Winnabow, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018.
The core of the storm was drifting westward over South Carolina. The hurricane center said that as of 8 p.m. EDT, the core was about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east-southeast of Columbia, the state capital. Its top sustained winds had dropped to 45 mph (75 kph), and Florence was crawling along at 2 mph (4 kph).

The large storm came ashore earlier in the week as a hurricane, flooding rivers, forcing high-water rescues and leaving a trail of destruction.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday that despite the downgrade, Florence was still «unloading epic amounts of rainfall» and still very capable of wiping out entire communities.

In Kinston, N.C., people and businesses were in a precarious situation as the Neuse River went out of its banks during Tropical Storm Florence, Sept. 15, 2018. (VOA Russian service)
In Kinston, N.C., people and businesses were in a precarious situation as the Neuse River went out of its banks during Tropical Storm Florence, Sept. 15, 2018. (VOA Russian service)
«The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall,» he said. «We face walls of water at our coast, along our rivers, across farmland, in our cities and in our towns.»

Cooper said floodwaters were continuing to rise, and he urged evacuees to «stay put» until they received «the official all-clear.»

Jeff Pyron, left, and Daniel Lilly cover Lilly's roof after Tropical Storm Florence hit Davis, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018. The town had 4½ feet of storm surge.
Jeff Pyron, left, and Daniel Lilly cover Lilly’s roof after Tropical Storm Florence hit Davis, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018. The town had 41/2 feet of storm surge.
Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said Saturday that President Donald Trump had assured him «he would do whatever it takes to see that everything is available» in terms of federal resources for South Carolina as it coped with the onslaught and aftermath of Florence.
Floodwaters were rising near businesses in LaGrange, N.C., as Tropical Storm Florence pounded the area, Sept. 15, 2018. (VOA Russian service)
Floodwaters were rising near businesses in LaGrange, N.C., as Tropical Storm Florence pounded the area, Sept. 15, 2018. (VOA Russian service)
McMaster said record amounts of rainfall in the Carolinas had been measured — «in feet, in some places, and not inches» — and warned that in addition to the extra rainfall, South Carolina would have to handle flooding from North Carolina that was moving downriver.

Florence was expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Saturday night as it moved inland.

A mailbox on Mill Creek Road is barely above water after Florence hit Newport, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018. A day after blowing ashore, Florence practically parked itself over land all day long and poured on the rain.
A mailbox on Mill Creek Road is barely above water after Florence hit Newport, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018. A day after blowing ashore, Florence practically parked itself over land all day long and poured on the rain.
Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water. Authorities said they had received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern alone because water had entered their homes.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing on the Neuse River just outside his house in New Bern, restaurant owner and hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

«I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the Earth,» he said.

People are rescued by a member of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, Sept. 14, 2018.
People are rescued by a member of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, Sept. 14, 2018.
New Bern resident Latasha Jones was one of the more fortunate ones.

«The evacuation was countywide, but since we’re not in a flood zone, we weren’t really worried about that,» she told VOA.

«The way our house sits, it’s elevated. We have steps on the sides of the house, so it’s a few feet off the ground anyway. And since we’re already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others,» she said.

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