Hurricane Florence leaves Wilmington ‘inaccessible by land,’ NC DOT says

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Flooding and downed trees from Hurricane Florence are blocking dozens of roads in and around Wilmington Monday, leaving the city largely cut off from the rest of the state.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation on Monday morning tweeted that the city is “inaccessible by land,” warning: “Don’t travel, let responders work.”

Jim Trogdon, the N.C. Transportation Secretary, clarified in a press conference Monday afternoon that one road to Wilmington is open. But he didn’t identify the road, saying emergency crews need it and worry about its accessibility throughout the week.

Gov. Roy Cooper added: “We don’t need (Wilmington evacuees) going back right now, particularly when this route may disappear tonight.”

Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant, about 30 miles south of Wilmington, declared a state of emergency because the 1,200-acre complex is cut off by flood waters and inaccessible to outside personnel, The N&O’s Craig Jarvis reported on Monday. Some plant workers are stranded there, N&O reporter John Murawski reported.

Wilmington and New Hanover County are “dealing with some very, very tough situations in respect to the impassible roads coming into the city of Wilmington, coming into the county of New Hanover,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in video announcement Monday morning.

New Hanover is one of eight counties that has been declared a disaster area, meaning the government is requesting special assistance in helping the area recover.

The death toll across North and South Carolina reached 19 on Monday, the Charlotte Observer’s Mark Price reported. In Wilmington, a mother and child were killed Friday when a tree fell onto their home, according to a tweet by the Wilmington police.

WECT and The Wilmington Star News reported that someone died in New Hanover at Hoggard High School, which was being used as a shelter for evacuees.


Zach Sullivan walks down a flooded Water Street as the Cape Fear River overflows it’s banks as Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday Sept. 14, 2018.

Chuck Liddy

Over the weekend, weather prevented Gov. Roy Cooper and an air crew from flying over Wilmington to assess the damage there, Cooper said in a press conference on Sunday.

The city experienced a total blackout after Florence arrived in Wilmington Thursday night. Between Friday and Sunday, Wilmington police had responded to more than 800 calls.

More than 632,500 North Carolinians were still without power Sunday, with the highest concentration of outages in New Hanover and neighboring counties. By noon Monday, Duke Energy reported 79,800 outages in New Hanover — about 50,000 more than Carteret County, which had the second-highest number of outages.

An N.C. Emergency Response team provided 23 truckloads of food and bottled water to Wilmington between Sunday night and Monday morning.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.