Florence a ‘2 part dis­as­ter’

The Southland Times - - World -

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civil­ian crews and vol­un­teers used heli­copters, boats and heavy-duty ve­hi­cles yes­ter­day to res­cue hun­dreds of peo­ple trapped by Florence’s shore­line on­slaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be the next stage of the dis­as­ter: wide­spread, cat­a­strophic flood­ing in­land.

The death toll from the hur­ri­cane-turned-trop­i­cal storm climbed to 11.

A day af­ter blow­ing ashore with 145kmh winds, Florence prac­ti­cally parked it­self over land all day long and poured on the rain. With rivers ris­ing to­ward record lev­els, thou­sands of peo­ple were or­dered to evac­u­ate for fear the next few days could bring the most de­struc­tive round of flood­ing in North Carolina his­tory.

More than 60cm of rain had fallen in places, and the drench­ing went on and on, with fore­cast­ers say­ing there could be an ad­di­tional 45cm by the end of the week­end.

‘‘I can­not over­state it: Flood­wa­ters are ris­ing, and if you aren’t watch­ing for them, you are risk­ing your life,’’ Gov­er­nor Roy Cooper said.

With half of the storm still out over the At­lantic yes­ter­day, Florence con­tin­ued to col­lect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

In its ini­tial on­slaught along the coast, Florence buck­led build­ings, del­uged en­tire com­mu­ni­ties and knocked out power to more than 900,000 homes and busi­nesses. But the storm was shap­ing up as a two-part dis­as­ter, with the sec­ond, de­layed stage trig­gered by rain­wa­ter work­ing its way into rivers and streams.

The flash flood­ing could dev­as­tate com­mu­ni­ties and en­dan­ger dams, roads and bridges.

Au­thor­i­ties or­dered the im­me­di­ate evac­u­a­tion of up to 7500 peo­ple liv­ing within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Lit­tle River, about 160km from the coast. The evac­u­a­tion zone in­cluded part of the city of Fayet­teville, pop­u­la­tion 200,000.

Of­fi­cials in nearby Har­nett County urged res­i­dents of about 1100 homes to clear out be­cause the Lower Lit­tle River was ris­ing to­ward record lev­els.

One po­ten­tial road out was blocked as flood­ing forced the shut­down of a 26km stretch of In­ter­state 95, the main high­way along the East­ern Seaboard.

In New Bern , along the coast, homes were com­pletely sur­rounded by water, and res­cuers used in­flat­able boats to reach peo­ple.

Kevin Knox and his fam­ily were res­cued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Jo­han Mackie, part of a team us­ing a phone app to lo­cate peo­ple in dis­tress. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neigh­bour­hood, nav­i­gat­ing through trees and past a fen­ce­post to get to the Knox house. –AP


Robert Sim­mons Jr. and his kit­ten "Sur­vivor" are res­cued from flood­wa­ters af­ter Hur­ri­cane Florence dumped rain in the area around New Bern, North Carolina.


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