Hurricane Florence’s rainfall has stopped, but its “nightmare” destruction isn’t over yet.
On Wednesday, thousands of evacuees were urged to stay away from their homes, some rivers kept rising, and the threat of floods remained high in North and South Carolina. Many roads remained closed, and thousands of people lacked power.
President Donald Trump spoke with state and federal officials at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on the Neuse River in North Carolina. He praised first responders and said the country mourns with the families of the at least 36 people killed by Florence.
“Our state took a gut punch and our state is still reeling,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told Trump, calling the storm “epic, disastrous and widespread.”
“We’ve got a long road ahead in the days, in the months and even years ahead to make sure we build back.”
The President said the federal government would do everything necessary to ensure recovery. “America grieves with you and our hearts break for you,” Trump said. “God bless you. We will never forget your loss. To all those impacted by this terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help. You will recover.”
Later he traveled to Conway, South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster met the President as he arrived.
Also across the ravaged region:
• Rivers are still rising in South Carolina and will continue throughout the week, the state’s Emergency Response Team said Wednesday morning.
• Some 2,600 National Guard men and women are deployed across the state.
• About 800 power outages have occurred in South Carolina.
• North Carolina farms lost an estimated 3.4 million poultry birds and 5,500 pigs, officials said.
• South Carolina cotton farmers also were hit hard. Soaked ground could damage peanut crops, and hemp stems were reported blown over, the state said.
Among the dead were two detainees who died in a Horry County Sheriff’s Office transportation van in South Carolina floodwaters.
Much work remains in the recovery efforts, officials said.
Crews must work to reopen roads, restore power, contain hazardous materials and restore medical services, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said at Cherry Point.
Rivers cresting, some twice
North Carolina’s Cape Fear River reached 61 feet near Fayetteville on Wednesday, putting thousands in harm’s way.
Toward the coast, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said in a Facebook video that officers are going door-to-door in the Waccamaw River floodplain areas to encourage residents to consider evacuating and to get ready in case it becomes necessary.