Hurricane Florence damage: Then and now

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It was six months ago today that Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina. The Category 1 storm made landfall the morning of Sept.14, near Wrightsville Beach.

It created historic flooding with more than 30 inches of rain. Elizabethtown, North Carolina recorded 35.93 inches, setting a new tropical cyclone record for the state.

Chopper 11 surveyed the damage immediately after the storm, and this week, flew over the same areas to see what has changed in six months.

Topsail Island: The beach community took the brunt of Florence. Hundreds of beach houses damaged or destroyed. Many houses remain uninhabitable, waiting for repairs. The Surf City Pier remains closed but work is underway to repair it. Sand-covered roads have been cleared. 20-40 feet of dunes were washed away. Beach re-nourishment efforts continue.

Fayetteville: The Cape Fear River near Person Street is back to normal levels. The bridge became a tourist attraction right after Florence. At the height of the storm, the water nearly covered a railroad bridge.

Spring Lake: Florence nearly washed away the Starlite Motel. Only the roof was visible as floodwaters rushed through it. The motel is permanently closed. Crews continue to work to tear down the building.

Lumberton: The West Lumberton Baptist Church was surrounded by floodwaters, despite the frantic effort of residents to protect it with sandbags. Mounds of dirt and mud remain, but the church is intact.

Sampson County: The flooding from Florence had a major impact on livestock. The state estimates at least 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and more than 5,000 hogs died in the flood. The images of hog houses off Ennis Bridge Road in Sampson County shows just a small piece of what happened. Months later, the hog houses are dry but they remain empty.

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