Ma­jor flood­ing due more than a week af­ter Florence

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Gary D. Robert­son, Martha Wag­goner and Alan Su­d­er­man

BLADENBORO, N.C. — More than a week af­ter Hur­ri­cane Florence made land­fall, thou­sands of coastal res­i­dents were told Sun­day that they may need to leave their homes be­cause of still-ris­ing rivers.

About 6,000 to 8,000 peo­ple in Ge­orge­town County, South Carolina, were told to pre­pare to evac­u­ate ahead of a “record event” of up to 10 feet of flood­ing ex­pected be­cause of heavy rains dumped by Florence, county spokes­woman Jackie Broach-Ak­ers said. She said the flood­ing is ex­pected to start Tues­day near parts of the Pee Dee and Wac­ca­maw rivers and peo­ple in the po­ten­tial flood zones should plan to leave their homes Mon­day.

In North Carolina, five river gauges were still at ma­jor flood stage and five oth­ers were at mod­er­ate flood stage, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. The Cape Fear River was ex­pected to crest and re­main at flood stage through the early part of the week, and parts of In­ter­states 95 and 40 are ex­pected to re­main un­der­wa­ter for an­other week or more.

“Hur­ri­cane Florence has deeply wounded our state, wounds that will not fade soon as the flood wa­ters fi­nally re­cede,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Sat­ur­day. The storm claimed least 43 lives since slam­ming into the coast Sept. 14.

North Carolina Emer­gency Man­age­ment Direc­tor Michael Spray­berry said that east­ern coun­ties con­tinue to see ma­jor flood­ing, in­clud­ing ar­eas along the Black, Lum­ber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.

He said res­i­dents who reg­is­ter with the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency can be­gin mov­ing into ho­tels Mon­day. The pro­gram ini­tially will be open to res­i­dents in nine coun­ties and then will be ex­panded. A FEMA co­or­di­na­tor said about 69,000 peo­ple from North Carolina al­ready have regis­tered for as­sis­tance.

On the Outer Banks, at least three wild horse herds sur­vived Florence, but care­tak­ers were still try­ing to ac­count for one herd liv­ing on a hard-hit bar­rier is­land, the News & Ob­server re­ported Sun­day. Staff mem­bers are plan­ning to make trips to the is­land this week to check on the Shack­le­ford Banks herd.

North Carolina en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cials also said they’re closely mon­i­tor­ing two sites where Florence’s flood­wa­ters have in­un­dated coal ash sites.

An eco­nomic re­search firm es­ti­mated that Hur­ri­cane Florence has caused around $44 bil­lion in dam­age and lost out­put, which would make it one of the top 10 costli­est U.S. hur­ri­canes. The top dis­as­ter, Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005, cost $192.2 bil­lion in to­day’s dol­lars, while last year’s Hur­ri­cane Har­vey cost $133.5 bil­lion

Moody’s An­a­lyt­ics es­ti­mates Florence has caused $40 bil­lion in dam­age and $4 bil­lion in lost eco­nomic out­put, though the com­pany stressed that the es­ti­mate is pre­lim­i­nary and could go higher or lower.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has es­ti­mated dam­age from the flood in his state at $1.2 bil­lion. He asked con­gres­sional lead­ers to hurry fed­eral aid.

SEAN RAYFORD / GETTY IM­AGES

Luis Gomez res­cues baby chicks from flood­wa­ters caused by Hur­ri­cane Florence near the Todd Swamp in Longs, South Carolina. Rivers are still ris­ing in the state, with more flood­ing due Tues­day.

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