The latest: Falling tree kills child in Gaston County, marking 11 Florence-related deaths in NC

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  • Officials say at least 16 people in the Carolinas have been killed in the storm, including 11 in North Carolina and five in South Carolina.
  • Authorities have ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River.
  • A large portion of Interstate 95, from Johnston County to the South Carolina line, has been closed because of flooding.
  • State transportation officials say motorists should avoid Interstate 40 from Wilmington to I-95 because it is closed.
  • Florence has weakened significantly, and the National Hurricane Center now classifies it as a tropical depression.

6:45 p.m.: Wrightsville Beach residents won’t be allowed back onto the island until Tuesday or Wednesday, officials said. Crews are working to restore power and clear roads.

6:15 p.m.: A 3-month-old child died Sunday afternoon after a tree fell on a mobile home in Gaston County, according to NBC affiliate WCNC in Charlotte. The incident happened at about 1:30 p.m. in Dallas. The mother was rushed to the hospital and was in stable condition.

The child is the 11th fatality in North Carolina linked to Hurricane Florence.

6:10 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties until 6:45 p.m. A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was 7 miles southeast of Henderson, moving northwest at 35 mph. The warning was quickly canceled for Franklin and Warren counties.

A second tornado warning was issued for Robeson County until 6:30 p.m. and for Scotland County until 7 p.m.

6 p.m.: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has advised the owners of Lake Upchurch in Fayetteville to start releasing water into Rockfish Creek to prevent a catastrophic dam failure, officials said. The release will cause the downstream water level to rise by 6 to 8 inches in addition to any Florence-related changes. Area residents are urged to monitor conditions and take appropriate action.

5:45 p.m.: Sandbagging a portion of a levee in Lumberton has failed, Deputy Director of Public Works Corey Walter says. He expects the rising water in the Lumber River will flood western and southern parts of the town.

“What did happen in [Hurricane] Matthew is going to happen again, if not worse,” Walter said.

Crews have built a containment berm around the critical parts of the water plant, which was shut down for 30 days in 2016 following Matthew, and have moved equipment from the plant in an effort to keep the water plant operational, he said.

5:15 p.m.: North Topsail Beach residents won’t be allowed back in until Wednesday, officials said, to give crews time to make roads passable. Structural damage from Florence was “mild to moderate,” officials said in a Facebook post, but flooding was extensive. It remains unclear when residents of Topsail Beach and Surf City can return, as crews there assess damage and try to restore power and clear roads.

5:05 p.m.: Nearly 700 roads are closed across North Carolina, according to to the state Department of Transportation. GPS navigation systems aren’t keeping up with the changing conditions and are directing people onto roads that are closed or flooded, officials said.

To get an idea on road conditions, go to, officials said.

“Unless you are evacuating, stay in place,” Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said. “Road conditions are changing rapidly with the rising waters, and you could endanger yourself and those responding to the storm.”

4:50 p.m.: Power outages across North Carolina are down to about 632,500, according to the state Department of Public Safety. That number is the lowest level since early Friday afternoon and is down from a peak of nearly 821,000 on Saturday morning. New Hanover, Brunswick, Carteret, Onslow and Robeson counties have the largest number of outages.

4:35 p.m.: Damage from Hurricane Florence is so extensive in Bladen County that schools there will be closed indefinitely. School district officials will assess the damage on Friday to make a determination as to when classes might resume.

4:30 p.m.: A fifth death has been reported in South Carolina attributed to Florence, bringing the total number of deaths from the storm to 15.

4:20 p.m.: Harnett County officials say rising water levels on the Cape Fear River mean that anyone who lives near the river must evacuate by 10 a.m. Monday.

3:52 p.m.: A tornado has been confirmed to have touched down between Maxton and Laurinburg, moving north at 25 mph. The tornado warning for Robeson and Scotland counties has been extended to 4:45 p.m.

Hope Mills Dam

3:40 p.m.: Cumberland County Schools will remain closed through Wednesday because of flooding from Hurricane Florence. For a full list of closings, click here.

3:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Robeson and Scotland counties until 4 p.m. A tornado watch remains in effect from Fayetteville south to the South Carolina state line until 5 p.m.

3:15 p.m.: Wake County schools will remain closed in the wake of Hurricane Florence, but Durham Public Schools will resume classes.

2:20 p.m.: Schools in Johnston and Wayne counties will remain closed Monday and Tuesday because flooding associated with Florence. Johnston County school staff will have an optional workday on Tuesday. For a full list of closings, click here.

1:15 p.m.: Sky 5 has pictures from a I-95 at I-40, which remains impassable because of floodwaters. Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

12:29 p.m.: Robeson County is under a tornado warning, according to the National Weather Service. WRAL meteorologoist Elizabeth Gardner says residents should be prepared to get into their safe place. The warning is in effect until 1 p.m.

12:10 p.m.: New power outages statistics have been released and 712,772 residents around North Carolina do not have electricity.

Flooding in North Carolina

12:05 p.m.: During Gov. Roy Cooper’s daily briefing, he warned North Carolina residents that the worst is not yet over and residents need to remain on alert because of the threat of flooding. He warned of landslides in the western part of the state. The governor took an aerial tour of the state with the National Guard. Officials said 900 residents have been rescued and 10 food kitchens are being set up to prepare meals for those in need. Three shelters are already functioning, including locations in Washington, Wilmington and New Bern. Jim Trogdon, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, said 171 roads around the state are now closed, up from 30 closings reported on Friday.

12:02 p.m.: WRAL reporter Adam Owens and photojournalist Mark Stebnicki are driving around Atlantic Beach where there is a good deal of damage. County officials say residents will be allowed to return to their homes at 1 p.m. today.

11:52 a.m.: New Hanover County officials are providing a live update about their response to Florence. The county manager says evacuees should not attempt to return home yet because they may be putting themselves in harms way. They have asked the state for National Guard members to help with their disaster response. The county has received 26 inches of precipitation so far with an additional 5 inches in the forecast. Anyone needing assistance should call 910-798-6800 although life-and-death emergencies should be reported to 911. Online users can click here: New Hanover County Emergency Management A county curfew has been put in place from sundown to sun up. “It’s slowly getting better but it’s going to be a long and arduous process,” a county official said. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says every road returning to the area is impassable and traffic lights in the area are not working.

11:35 a.m.: Wilmington has seen 86.9 inches of rainfall so far in 2018 with 23.5 inches of that from Hurricane Florence. The previous record — for a whole year — was set in 1877, when the city saw 83.6 inches of rain.

11:30 a.m.: The driver of a truck lost control on a flooded road in South Carolina, becoming the 14th death across the Carolinas that is attributed to Florence. According to law enforcement authorities in South Carolina, the accident occurred in Georgetown County on Sept. 16, at 2:30 am. A pick-up truck traveling south on Plantersville Road drove into standing water on the roadway and the driver lost control before the truck overturned into a ditch.

10:30 a.m.: More closings are being reported for Monday, including Cumberland County public schools. For a full list of closings click here.

Rainfall totals from Florence on Sunday

9:13 a.m.: Two people have died storm-related deaths in South Carolina, bringing Florence’s death toll across the Carolina to at least 13.

8:28 a.m.: Swift water rescue teams are on standby in Garner and ready to help for those who become trapped in rising floodwaters. Some of the crews are from out of state and have been called in to help local crews.

7:19 a.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for the Wilimington area and parts of Brunswick County until 7:45 a.m. WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says residents in that area should seek shelter and be on alert for rough weather.

Florence path

6:15 a.m.: Cumberland County officials say an eighth shelter will open in the county Sunday at 9 a.m. at Manna Church with 200 beds. During a press conference Saturday, Cumberland emergency management officials said they were expecting unprecedented flooding and residents should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice if they haven’t already sought higher ground.

6 a.m.: Officials in Hope Mills fear that their dam will not withstand the rising waters from Florence.

5 a.m.: A large portion of I-95 remains shut down because of flooding concerns. According to state Department of Transportation Officials, “travel is hazardous in North Carolina on all roads south of US Highway 64 and east of I-73/74. Motorists should not drive in these areas.” Officials were urging drivers to avoid North Carolina if they can by taking detours through Tennessee and Virginia.

Detour map to avoid NC flooding

GPS systems are routing users into areas NCDOT is not recommending for travel.

4:20 a.m.: Several North Carolina rivers, including Lumber, Little River, Cape Fear and Neuse, are at flood stage and expected to continue rising, posing a significant risk for residents who live along those waterways, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss.

2:06 a.m.: Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center says excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be “catastrophic.” In its 2 a.m. update Sunday, the center also says an elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.

Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.

1:05 a.m.

North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.


After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Storm surges, flash floods and winds have spread destruction widely and the Marines, the Coast Guard and volunteers have used boats, helicopters, and heavy-duty vehicles to conduct hundreds of rescues as of Saturday.

The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm has now climbed to 11.

new bern boat

Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecaster warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring some of the most destructive flooding in North Carolina history.