TROP­I­CAL STORM FLORENCE North Carolina pre­pares for long-term re­cov­ery

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Gary D. Robert­son

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina must with­stand more tor­ren­tial rain, gusty wind and river flood­ing from trop­i­cal storm Florence next week, but emer­gency lead­ers are al­ready work­ing on the re­cov­ery.

Non­profit groups are pre­par­ing to serve tens of thou­sands of meals daily in the most-dam­aged ar­eas, while state and fed­eral emer­gency of­fi­cials are lo­cat­ing tem­po­rary hous­ing, in­clud­ing ho­tel rooms, for storm vic­tims in the weeks or months that they're dis­placed.

“We are ex­pect­ing sev­eral more days of rain, and our fo­cus now is get­ting peo­ple away from im­me­di­ate dan­ger,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said as the storm put­tered slowly west near the South Carolina bor­der. “And then we will shift into putting our com­mu­ni­ties back to­gether.”

Thou­sands of the 20,000 peo­ple stay­ing in more than 150 shel­ters this week­end and oth­ers wait­ing it out else­where won't be able to re­turn to their homes for good any time soon. Cooper asked dis­placed res­i­dents Satur­day to re­sist the urge to re­turn un­til the storm clears out and roads are pass­able.

Homes have been washed away by storm surge or made un­liv­able by stand­ing wa­ter, fallen trees or other de­bris. And even if their homes sur­vived in­tact, hun­dreds of thou­sands of util­ity cus­tomers who lack power have lim­ited food op­tions.

The North Carolina Bap­tist Men's or­ga­ni­za­tion planned to be­gin soon mov­ing kitchen equip­ment in­land, where they ex­pect to pre­pare 85,000 meals a day when all its feed­ing op­er­a­tions are up and run­ning. The first units were ex­pected to open early next week, ac­cord­ing to Jack Fra­zier, Bap­tist Men's dis­as­ter re­lief co­or­di­na­tor.

With close to 90 of the state's 100 coun­ties set­ting up their emer­gency man­age­ment of­fices, all signs point to a long re­cov­ery from Florence.

“I'll tell you, this one is so wide­spread, you're go­ing to have a hard time find­ing a North Carolinian who is not go­ing to be af­fected by this storm in some way,” Cooper said.

Florence bring­ing ex­treme rain­fall

STEVE HELBER/AP

Houses and yards are sur­rounded by wa­ter from Florence, now a trop­i­cal storm, in New Bern, North Carolina, on Satur­day.

GERRY BROOME/AP

Heavy equip­ment is used to cover a rail­road with sand in an­tic­i­pa­tion of flood­ing from the nearby Lum­ber River in Lumberton, North Carolina, on Satur­day.

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