MIAMI (AP) — Unfortunately, the forecast for Florence has not changed: It’s still raining. Rivers are still rising. Flooding will be biblical.
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 a long time to dry out.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Storm deaths: Florence is being blamed for at least 18 deaths in the Carolinas, while Typhoon Mangkhut has killed at least 69 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 500,000 outages, mostly in North Carolina
- Protected: About 15,000 people in shelters in North Carolina
- 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, and the Defense Department assigned 13,500 military personnel to help relief efforts
- Safe now: North Carolina’s governor says 1,600 people and 300 animals have been moved to safety as of early Monday
- 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
A 3-month-old baby boy whose North Carolina mobile home was split by a falling pine tree is among at least 18 deaths linked to Florence . Authorities also have recovered the body of 1-year-old North Carolina boy who was swept from his mother’s arms by floodwaters.
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.
Something else to worry about: some dams might not be able to hold up under the strain of the devastating flooding in North Carolina. According to data obtained by The Associated Press, the state has 1,445 dams rated high hazard, and 185 of those structures had conditions of poor or unsatisfactory during recent inspections.
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.”
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.
By JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press