Carolinas flood after Florence

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 7:35 a.m. ET, September 19, 2018
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3:18 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

Flooded I-95 cuts off Wilmington, threatens water supply in Lumberton

From CNN’s Polo Sandoval

Flooded highways have cut off the city of Wilmington and are threatening water supplies in Lumberton, officials say.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there are about 1,000 road closures, and no safe way in or out of Wilmington.

North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Carolina Department of Transportation

Portions of the I-95 could remain closed all week, said Corey Walters, deputy director of public works. It won’t reopen until the Lumber River, which crested to 25 feet yesterday, begins to drop.

The North Carolina city of Lumberton, through which the I-95 runs, is working to pump out floodwater. If the water level is allowed to rise, it could flood the water treatment plant and cut off the entire city's water supply, Walters said.

Officials are recommending that residents conserve water to prepare for a worst case scenario.

North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Carolina Department of Transportation

3:01 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

Trump hails tremendous effort and bravery among recovery workers

Speaking at a press conference alongside the Polish president, Trump addressed the ongoing recovery efforts in areas hit by the storm.

"I do want to say that while we're together, tremendous effort and bravery is being shown in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the area that was so horribly hit by Hurricane Florence," Trump said.

He added, "I just got some clips of some of the things that the Coast Guard is doing and getting people to safety in horrible conditions. And I want to salute the first responders, law enforcement, the military, FEMA -- the job they are doing is incredible. It is incredible. So I just want to thank them very much."

Watch more:

2:52 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

12,000 residents are in harm's way of the Cape Fear River

From CNN's Miguel Marquez and Hollie Silverman

12,000 residents are “in harm’s way” as the Cape Fear River continues to rise, according to Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett.

82 water rescues have already been performed in the area and more continue, Hewett said.

The river, currently at over 60 feet, is expected to crest at 61 to 62 feet at about noon Wednesday. That timing is later than initially anticipated due to rainfall the area received Monday night and water from tributaries continuing to drain into the Cape Fear River according to Hewett.

The city of Fayetteville has approved $2.3 million in flood recovery funding, Hewett said.

Check out the National Weather Service's graph showing the river's rise into major flood stage over the past few days:

2:44 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

Trump says the Democrats will attack him over Florence response. (They haven't yet.)

President Trump touted in two tweets what a "great job" his administration was doing in its response to Hurricane Florence and said Democrats would soon "start ranting" about the response as a "disaster."

"This will be a total lie, but that's what they do, and everybody knows it!" Trump tweeted.

There has been no notable criticism from Democrats of the federal response to Hurricane Florence.

12:59 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

FEMA Director: The next 2 days are critical

From CNN's Amanda Watts

FEMA Director Brock Long.
FEMA Director Brock Long.

FEMA Director Brock Long said that he’s pleased so far with the Florence response but added that “we’ve got a long way to go” to recover.

“The next 48 hours are extremely critical,” Long said. 

Long said there are a lot of people in shelters and a lot of displaced residents.

"It’s going to take some time for the water to recede," he said. "Some rivers haven’t crested yet.”

FEMA is operating in North Carolina to help fix the transportation system and get roads back open, so crews can get in and get the power back on. Fixing the power will "solve 80% of the problems we see," Long said.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who plans to meet with President Trump when he visits the state, said he and Long will travel to Wilmington today to assess the damage there.

12:28 p.m. ET, September 18, 2018

Florence's wrath on North Carolina, by the numbers

From CNN's Amanda Watts

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper laid out some of the stark impact Florence has had on the Tar Heel state:

  • 16 rivers are at major flood level.
  • 26 people in North Carolina died due to the storm.
  • 1,200 roads are closed.
  • 343,000 customers remain without power.
  • 2,200 people and 578 animals were rescued.
  • A quarter of the crops in the fields suffered damage.
  • 10,000 people remain in shelters.

The Coast Guard released its own set of numbers showing its response to the storm:

  • The Coast Guard has rescued 426 people and 234 pets since Hurricane Florence began.
  • There are 26 shallow-water response boat teams deployed to North Carolina comprised of 116 people.
  • There are 191 Coast Guard members assigned to the North Carolina Incident Command Post in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
11:54 a.m. ET, September 18, 2018

Barrier island residents can check on their homes with these satellite images

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy


If you evacuated from some of North Carolina's barrier islands, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite imagery can help you check in on your home.

NOAA released aerial photos, taken after Hurricane Florence made landfall, of some of the islands. You can zoom in and check out the damage, even if you're far away from home.

You can access the images here.

11:34 a.m. ET, September 18, 2018

President Trump to visit Carolinas on Wednesday 

From CNN's Elizabeth Landers and Jim Acosta

President Trump will travel Wednesday to areas impacted by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina, sources tell CNN.

Trump is expected to visit Myrtle Beach while in South Carolina. It is not yet clear where in North Carolina Trump is expected visit.

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott are expected to fly on Air Force One with Trump.

11:05 a.m. ET, September 18, 2018

South Carolina governor: The water has not crested yet

From CNN's Amanda Watts

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about rising river floodwaters on Monday in Wallace, South Carolina.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about rising river floodwaters on Monday in Wallace, South Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty Images

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned residents that the hurricane was over but that the flooding threat was not yet done.

“We’ve had two threats. One is the hurricane with the wind and the water and the surge, and that part is over," he said. "But the second part which has been predicted with great certainty is the flooding, and we know it’s coming."

"It’s all not here yet, it appears. They are having record flooding in North Carolina, Wilmington I believe is cut-off and other places, and we’ve not experienced that,” McMaster said. 

The governor took an aerial tour over flooded Cheraw, South Carolina.

“Sure enough, it reminded me of earlier floods where you get down close to the forest and you see water, water everywhere. In some places, you could hardly tell where the river was, cause the water was everywhere,” he said. 

Along the coast, the winds and rain are gone, but in the northern part of the state they are having major flooding, McMaster said. He said they are shifting all their resources and attention to river flooding.