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Florence is out of the Carolinas but left a trail of misery in its wake, killing dozens of people, flooding critical areas and destroying property.
- At least 33 people have been killed in the storm and its aftermath, including 26 in North Carolina. More than 2,600 people and nearly 600 animals have been rescued across the state.
- Fayetteville and Lumberton are both at risk for flooding.The Cape Fear River is expected to crest at 61.5 feet by Wednesday, and the Lumber River was cresting Tuesday but will stay in major flood stage into next week.
- A large portion of Interstate 95, from Johnston County to the South Carolina line, remains closed because of flooding, and Interstate 40 from Wilmington to I-95 also remains closed.
- DOT has cleared a route to get emergency supplies into Wilmington, which has been effectively cut off from the rest of the state by flooding.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
12:15 p.m.: Nurses are needed to help with the hurricane recovery effort, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said.
12 p.m.: Sixteen rivers statewide are at major flood stage, and three more will reach that stage on Wednesday or Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper said.
“Sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean safety,” Cooper said during a news conference, noting more than 1,100 roads across the state remain closed.
Cooper also noted that the number of Florence-related deaths in North Carolina is now at 26. No details on the latest death were released.
About 344,000 people are still without power.
11:53 a.m.: Fayetteville police have lifted the curfew for the city, the department tweeted. Residents were still urged to drive with caution because local rivers are expected to crest sometime Wednesday morning, authorities said.
11 a.m.: Brian Shrader and Sky 5 are flying over neighborhoods in Harnett and Cumberland counties, where floodwaters from the Little River have consumed homes.
In a neighborhood near the Harnett and Cumberland County line, Sky 5 spotted a two-story home that was covered with water more than halfway up its front.
9:30 a.m.: The Division of Employment Security announced Tuesday that Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Lenoir, Jones, Robeson, Sampson and Wayne counties have been approved for disaster unemployment assistance due to the effects of Hurricane Florence. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved an emergency fuel waiver request for North Carolina on behalf of Gov. Cooper. The EPA and the Department of Energy are monitoring the fuel supply situation and will act if needed.
8:45 a.m.: Rescue groups across the state and out-of-state are working to save animals left behind in Hurricane Florence. According to Guardians of Rescue, a rescue based in New York, their volunteers have traveled to Wilmington and surrounding areas to help rescue animals from floodwaters.
“We’ve helped rescue animals in many hurricanes, but this one has to be one of the worst hurricanes to get access to the animals in need,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “So many animals were left behind. We are getting calls about dogs left in kennels in backyards that are completely flooded, cats on rooftops, and horses in flooded fields, etc.”
8:30 a.m.: The Fayetteville Police Department has shared on social media three startling images of the Cape Fear River from Sunday to Tuesday People living near the river were urged to evacuate last week.
The river was expected to crest Tuesday, but a press release from city officials reflects a change in that timeline. The Cape Fear River is now projected to crest at 61.5 feet around 2 a.m. Wednesday. As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Cape Fear River was at 59 feet, which is above Hurricane Matthew levels.
People who live within the 1-mile evacuation area of the river are urged to evacuate. “Even though the heavy rains have ended, the flood hazard to life and property is real,” the press release read. “Do not become complacent.”
8 a.m.: At least 40 rescues have taken place in Spring Lake, and more in Cumberland County, where water from the Little River, which will crest at 36 feet on Tuesday and will stay in minor flood stage throughout the weekend.
7:53 a.m.: Even though the northbound lanes of I-95 at Jonesboro Road from Dunn reopened this morning, Sgt. Christopher D. Knox with the N.C. State Highway Patrol is urging people not to travel on the interstate at all.
“We have confirmed with our group and NCDOT that travel on I-95 is still not advised due to several areas still being impassable,” Sgt. Knox told WRAL News. “All motorists should avoid this route completely.”
7:15 a.m.: WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner explained what rivers and communities are most at risk for flooding this week.
- Fayetteville: The Cape Fear River will likely crest Wednesday in Fayetteville at 61.5 feet (the river’s major flood stage is considered 58 feet). The river, which is already causing flooding in Fayetteville, will fall below flood stage by Saturday.
- Manchester in Cumberland County: The Little River will crest at 36 feet on Tuesday and will stay at major flood stage until Thursday.
- Lillington: The Cape Fear River is cresting now and will lessen by Wednesday. It will be below flood stage by Thursday.
- Lumberton: Lumberton is flooding due to the Lumber River, which is cresting now but will stay in major flood stage into next week, according to Gardner.
- Smithfield: The Neuse River crested in Smithfield on Monday and will soon go below its flood stage.
- Goldsboro and Kinston: The Neuse River will crest in Goldsboro on Tuesday and in Kinston on Saturday.
6:54 a.m.: According to the mayor of New Bern, the city’s focus is now on recovery. Florence left in its wake an estimated $6 million of damage, and about 500 families will need temporary housing.
The city is working to clear roads and work on power outages. Some people are starting to return to New Bern, but Gov. Cooper is telling residents to stay off the roads so 18-wheelers can bring much-needed resources like food, cleaning supplies and clothes.
5:42 a.m.: The northbound lanes of I-95 at Jonesboro Road from Dunn have reopened, according to the state Department of Transportation’s website. Motorists traveling along I-95 south of Fayetteville were still urged to be cautious because a large chunk of the interstate remains closed. For more info: Click here
5:15 a.m.: In Jacksonville, conditions are improving, but Florence’s aftermath continues to cause problems. According to Glenn Hargett, the assistant city manager, the New River is receding rapidly but is still two feet above flood stage. Hargett said he has seen flooding in places that have never flooded, and damage is widespread. If anyone returns to Jacksonville, Hargett recommends they bring food and water and fill up on gas before doing so, as power restorations just started.
342,884 customers are currently without power in the state. That number was doubled last week.
5:01 a.m.: Workers will begin handing out supplies to stranded residents in Wilmington today.
The North Carolina Zoo reopens to the public at 9 a.m. and is offering free admission to Hurricane Florence evacuees until Sept. 21. Evacuees must identify themselves as an evacuee at the admissions gate and provide proof of residency in either North or South Carolina for free entry for a party up to six.
4:45 a.m.: Starting at Exit 285 heading east to Wilmington from Raleigh, Interstate 40 is a river. The tops of guard rails and a truck are peeking out of the water, which is at 9 feet in some places. Officials have not said when I-40 will reopen.
4:14 a.m.: Lillington and other areas in and around Harnett County are at risk Tuesday as the Cape Fear River continues to rise. More than 50 roads in the county are flooded.
3:37 a.m.: Multiple schools are closed or delayed Tuesday. Here’s a full list.
3:32 a.m.: Wrightsville Beach residents will be allowed back onto the island at 7 a.m.
3:27 a.m.: Flooding remains a concern in multiple communities, including Spring Lake, this morning. A tweet by the Spring Lake Police Department noted that a bridge on N.C. Highway 210 near McCormick Bridge Road is flooded and inaccessible.
3:21 a.m.: The Cape Fear River is expected to crest on Tuesday at 62 feet (nearly 19 meters) in Fayetteville, more than 27 feet over flood stage. Local communities, including Hope Mills, are at risk. On Saturday, residents of Cumberland County, the City of Fayetteville and the Town of Wade who live within one mile of the banks of the Cape Fear or Little rivers were ordered to evacuate immediately ahead of rising floodwaters.
On Monday Cumberland County officials said people should “pick a side” of the river and stay there until the river drops and bridges can safely be crossed. Officials said they have already rescued 62 people from flooded areas across the county.
Monday, Sept. 17
11:30 p.m.: Duke Energy expects to restore power to most North Carolina and South Carolina customers impacted by Hurricane Florence by Sept. 26 at 11:45 p.m. – but the vast majority will be restored sooner.
11:15 p.m.: Officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said 25 people have died in North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Those deaths occurred in Anson, Cleveland, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Gaston, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Union and Wayne counties.
7 p.m.: Wake County has ended its state of emergency and has closed all of its hurricane shelters. At its peak, the county operated six emergency shelters and cared for more than 1,200 people, both local residents and evacuees from coastal areas.
6:05 p.m.: After being criticized for holding classes Monday despite flooded streets and a tornado warning spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Florence, Durham Public Schools will operate on a two-hour delay Tuesday. Wake County schools will have a regular class day Tuesday, but other area school districts remain closed.
6 p.m.: Kinston has issued a boil-water advisory for customers along Neuse Road, Casey Road, Cindy Lou Drive, Michael Drive, Kays Path Drive, Caswell Station Road and Gray-Tilghman Road because floodwaters have created low pressure and outages in parts of the city’s water system.
4:15 p.m.: University of North Carolina officials say 12 of the university system’s 17 campuses will resume classes Tuesday morning: UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, N.C. Central University, the N.C. School of Science and Math, UNC-Greensboro, N.C. A&T, Winston-Salem State University, the UNC School of the Arts, Western Carolina University, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte and Elizabeth City State University.
East Carolina University will resume classes Wednesday; Fayetteville State University will reopen Thursday morning; UNC-Pembroke is closed at least through Wednesday; Appalachian State University has canceled classes through Tuesday; and UNC-Wilmington is closed through the end of the week. Officials said any students unable to return safely to their campuses shouldn’t try to do so.
4 p.m.: The state Attorney General’s Office has received more than 500 complaints of price gouging from across the state in the past week, including complaints against hotels, gas stations and retailers selling bottled water.
1:45 p.m.: WRAL News reporter Candace Sweat says preliminary damage figures out of New Bern, one of the areas most affected by Florence, show 4,325 homes damaged or destroyed, resulting in $14.8 million in residential damage and $14.7 million in commercial damage.
1:15 p.m.: A hog waste lagoon in Duplin County breached because of heavy rains from Florence, state Secretary of Environmental Quality Michael Regan said. Rains overflowed in five more lagoon in Jones and Pender counties, he said. The North carolina Pork Council said in a statement that an inspection showed solid wastes remained within the lagoon containment area at the Duplin County farm.
11:02 a.m. The Union County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the body of a man has been recovered on Landsford Road. The sheriff will have a press conference at 1 p.m.
10:46 a.m.: The Associated Press is reporting that Union County officials have recovered the body of a 1-year-old boy swept away Sunday night by floodwaters after the vehicle carrying him and his mom drove into rushing floodwaters on N.C. Highway 218.
9:03 a.m.: Video of a school bus driving through a flooded road in Durham has sparked concern.
“Durham Public Schools was in contact with city/county Emergency Management yesterday and reviewing weather/road conditions since 3:30 a.m. today,” said Chip Sudderth with Durham schools. “We had every indication that this was a good day to open school. When weather advisories were issued and conditions began to deteriorate, buses were already en route to school. In such situations, it is generally safer for our buses to bypass flooded roads and bring students to safety at our schools, which are secure facilities. We are continuing to monitor and respond to this morning’s weather conditions.”
The school later stated that students who can’t make it to school will have an excused absence.