Florence leaves ‘monumental disaster’ – with more trouble to come

Updated 11:08 PM EDT, Mon September 17, 2018
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Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence September 13, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Some parts of New Bern could be flooded with a possible 9-foot storm surge as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States.
Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence September 13, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. Some parts of New Bern could be flooded with a possible 9-foot storm surge as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States.
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NS Slug: NC:FLORENCE-RIVER FLOODING REACHES WINDOWS (STRONG)  Synopsis: Video of flooding from the Pungo River in Belhaven, NC, which has risen dramatically due to Hurricane Florence  Video Shows: Video of flooding from the Pungo River in Belhaven, NC, which has risen dramatically due to Hurricane Florence    Keywords: HURRICANE FLORENCE SOUTHEAST UNITED STATES SEVERE WEATHER STORM
NS Slug: NC:FLORENCE-RIVER FLOODING REACHES WINDOWS (STRONG) Synopsis: Video of flooding from the Pungo River in Belhaven, NC, which has risen dramatically due to Hurricane Florence Video Shows: Video of flooding from the Pungo River in Belhaven, NC, which has risen dramatically due to Hurricane Florence Keywords: HURRICANE FLORENCE SOUTHEAST UNITED STATES SEVERE WEATHER STORM
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FROM EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY ASTRONAUT ALEXANDER GERST:
Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you. #Horizons
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COURTESY: Alexander Gerst/ESA
PHOTOS: https://twitter.com/Astro_Alex/status/1039870760343543814
FROM EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY ASTRONAUT ALEXANDER GERST: Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you. #Horizons CLEARED: All platforms/affils COURTESY: Alexander Gerst/ESA PHOTOS: https://twitter.com/Astro_Alex/status/1039870760343543814
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065106 02: A man stands in a partially destroyed house September 27, 1989 in South Carolina. Hugo is ranked as the eleventh most intense hurricane to strike the US this century and is rated the second costliest with over seven billion dollars in damages. (Photo by Alan Weiner/Liaison)
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(CNN) —  

Florence has left the Carolinas, but the death toll keeps rising as remnants of the storm generate rain, floodwater and tornadoes.

Now a post-tropical cyclone, Florence has killed 32 people, trapped hundreds more and cut off an entire city, officials said. Residential streets have turned into rivers, and freeways have morphed into waterways dotted with rescue boats. And the storm continues to wreak havoc.

The first Florence-related death in Virginia was reported Monday as a tornado associated with the storm’s outer bands caused a building to collapse near Richmond. And reports in North Carolina of two hog-farm lagoons being breached and more being inundated by flood waters are causing health concerns.

“This is a monumental disaster for our state,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday. “This is an epic storm that is still continuing because the rivers are still rising.”

Florence will probably dump another 2 to 5 inches of rain on central and southeastern North Carolina, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. But even when the rain lets up, water gushing downstream is expected to cause “catastrophic and historic river flooding” for days across portions of the Carolinas, the National Weather Service said.

PHOTO: CNN

’There will be flooding like we’ve never seen before’

In addition to flooding across the Carolinas, flash-flood warnings were in effect Monday night across parts of far southern Virginia, where several tornadoes were confirmed Monday by storm spotters. One of those tornadoes hit Chesterfield County south of Richmond, causing a building collapse that killed one person.

In North Carolina, residents are slowly being allowed back to their homes in some areas. On Tuesday morning, residents of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina – where Florence made landfall – will be allowed back on the island, and Craven County’s mandatory evacuation will be lifted. But officials warned that homes and roads may still not be accessible and people attempting to return should use extreme caution.

Elsewhere, however, officials continued to warn people not to travel in or through the state. Some interstates, including sections of I-95 and I-40, are impassible and remained closed.

A dam burst Monday night in Lilesville in south-central North Carolina, causing evacuations.

Meanwhile, about 488,551 customers in North Carolina and 16,385 in South Carolina still don’t have electricity. But the number of actual people without power is far greater, since a single customer can represent an entire family.

Emergency workers made at least 1,000 swift-water rescues in North Carolina by Monday, but many more people need help. And those trapped in floodwater could also be without power for days.

The situation is especially dire in Wilmington, a city so deeply submerged that no one could get in Sunday. State authorities eventually were able to open one road into the city of 117,000. But it’s not for residents to use to return.

Mike Pollack searches for a drain in the yard of his flooded home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Mike Pollack searches for a drain in the yard of his flooded home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
PHOTO: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“We do not want evacuees to go back. There’s too much going on,” Cooper said.

The state’s Department of Transportation said it’s not clear how long that road will stay open, so authorities are trying to rush in supplies. And supplies such as fuel are in critical need. The Wilmington-based Cape Fear Public Utility Authority urged residents to fill bathtubs and containers with water in case it doesn’t have enough fuel to keep its water treatment plants running.

Pender County, just north of Wilmington, is also running out of fuel, Commissioner Jackie Newton said.

Evacuee loses car trying to get a flood victim food

Wilmington evacuee James Ammons can’t get a break.

James Ammons
James Ammons
PHOTO: CNN

He just moved to Wilmington a few weeks ago and already lost his car in the storm, he said.

“The reason why I lost my car is because there was a girl who hadn’t had food, and I wanted to get her some food,” Ammons said.

He tried to find safety at an emergency shelter, but it got flooded out. So he went to another emergency shelter – but that, too, got deluged.

“I’ve been to three shelters so far,” Ammons told CNN.

He said the stress is running high for evacuees who aren’t sure how badly their homes are damaged. But he said perspective is important.

“You have to be grateful for what you have right now.”

North Carolina Task Force members search for residents Sunday in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
North Carolina Task Force members search for residents Sunday in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
PHOTO: David Goldman/AP

River threatens to swallow Lumberton … again

In Lumberton, North Carolina – a city submerged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 – residents were bracing for disaster as the Lumber River seeps through a patched-up gap in the levee system.

Lumberton, North Carolina, is dealing with post-hurricane flooding for the second time in two years.
Lumberton, North Carolina, is dealing with post-hurricane flooding for the second time in two years.
PHOTO: CNN

The river is expected to crest around 25.7 feet. If it gets higher than 26 feet, “all bets are off,” city public works Deputy Director Corey Walters said.

Already, the floodwater in Lumberton has engulfed Bill Kozak’s home.

“I’m 5’9” and it got to the top of my chest in a lot of areas,” Kozak said.

He said he’s frustrated after dealing with two hurricane-induced floods in two years.

“It feels like there hasn’t been much done to prevent this from happening,” Kozak said.

Once he’s done repairing flood damage from Florence, Kozak said, he and his family are moving out of Lumberton.

’Bring your pets with you!’

Some residents said they decided to stay because many emergency shelters don’t accept pets. But those who left without their pets faced the wrath of passers-by and social media users.

Freelance journalist Marcus DiPaola tweeted that he helped rescue six dogs in Leland, North Carolina, after they were left locked in an outdoor cage.

“We got them out, but by the time we left, the water was so high that they would have drowned. BRING YOUR PETS WITH YOU!” he wrote.

Causes of death include drowning and fallen trees

Of deaths linked to Florence, 25 were in North Carolina, six were in South Carolina and one was in Virginia. They include:

– One-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch was swept away by rushing waters Sunday and later found dead in Union County, North Carolina.

– Also in Union County, the body of an elderly man was found by his submerged car.

– A 3-month-old who died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Dallas, North Carolina.

– A man who died when a his truck hit an overpass support beam on Interstate 20 in Kershaw County, South Carolina.

Where Florence’s remnants will go next

On Monday afternoon, Florence was centered about 85 miles west southwest of Morgantown, West Virginia, the National Weather Service said. It was moving north at 13 mph, whipping up 25-mph winds. Mountainous parts of southern Virginia are now at risk of flooding, mudslides and landslides due to Florence’s heavy rains on Monday, said Guy, the meteorologist.

The storm is expected to move north through the Charlottesville, Virginia, area before heading toward the Ohio Valley, hitting West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.

By Tuesday, “the remnants of Florence will be pushed towards the Northeast, where areas from northern Pennsylvania through central New York towards Boston could pick up some heavy rain,”

CNN’s Kaylee Hartung reported from Wilmington, and Cassie Spodak reported from Lumberton. CNN’s Chuck Johnston, Spencer Parlier, Judson Jones and Artemis Moshtaghian also contributed to this report.