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The forecast for Florence has not changed, unfortunately: It’s still raining, and rivers are still rising. All roads in and out of a North Carolina city of 120,000 people are underwater. Residents of inland communities who thought they were safe from the storm have to find high ground because of expected flooding. When the sun finally comes out later this week, it’s going to take all the damage a long time to dry out.
BY THE NUMBERS
—Storm deaths: Florence is being blamed for at least 17 deaths in the Carolinas, while Typhoon Mangkhut has killed at least 64 people in the Philippines and China.
—Heavy rains: Nearly 34 inches (86 centimeters) of rain fell from Thursday through Sunday in Swansboro, on the North Carolina coast, according to the National Weather Service
—In the dark: About 575,000 outages, mostly in North Carolina
—Protected: About 15,000 people in shelters in North Carolina
—Grounded: More than 2,400 flights canceled
—Storm losses: Mayor of New Bern, North Carolina, says his city has 30 roads still unpassable, 4,200 homes and more than 300 commercial buildings damaged, 6,000 customers without power and 1,200 residents in shelters
—Evacuations: Tens of thousands ordered out of communities along North Carolina’s steadily rising rivers, while over 2.4 million people in southern China’s Guangdong province were warned to escape Mangkhut
—To the rescue: Over 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel with 36 helicopters and over 200 boats were working in North Carolina
—Washed out: 2 U.S. government river monitoring gauges stopped transmitting after waters reached 21.5 feet (6.5 meters) and 24.2 feet (7 meters), and more gauges were expected to fail as rivers continued rising
IMAGES FROM THE GROUND
Images captured by Associated Press journalists show flooding caused by Florence in the Carolinas and Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines .
The Carolinas’ swollen rivers were beginning to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms , raising concerns about water pollution. Two power plants in North Carolina reported problems with coal ash dumps, but state environmental regulators said Sunday they had not yet heard about any potential contamination streaming from flooded hog farms.
Among the survivors encountered by Associated Press journalists this weekend was Lionel Atkinson, who drove to check on his mother in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and ended up stranded at her house because nearby roadways flooded and made it too risky for him to try and get home. Atkinson’s mother watched water rising in her street and declared, “Me personally, I don’t have any fear.”
STILL TALKING ABOUT MARIA
While dealing with Florence in the Carolinas, the Trump administration’s disaster relief chief found himself talking on Sunday news shows about the death toll in Puerto Rico from last year’s Hurricane Maria, which President Donald Trump loudly disputed on Twitter. Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said “the numbers are all over the place” and “there’s just too much blame going around.”
DEATH TOLL DEBATES
It could be months before the number of fatalities caused by Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut to be fully known, and it’s common for these kinds of tallies to sharply escalate as officials take account of the deaths indirectly caused by a storm. Disaster experts say it’s often difficult to quickly confirm hurricane-related fatalities because of the vast regions storms can affect.