Hurricane Florence death toll climbs as flooding spreads

Farm buildings are inundated with floodwater from Hurricane Florence near Trenton N.C. Sunday Sept. 16 2018

Officials in the Carolinas are anxious about what deaths are still to come amid the swelling rivers and flooding from Florence's crawl across both states.

It has dumped up to 100 cm of rain on North Carolina since Thursday, the NWS said.

In a news conference Tuesday, Cooper warned that sunshine doesn't mean the threat is over, and rivers continue to rise.

Preliminary statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed Florence had the fourth-highest rainfall total of any hurricane to hit the USA mainland since 1950, with 35.94 inches (91.2 centimeters) at Elizabethtown, North Carolina.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority said on Friday that flooding had caused more than 5 million gallons of partially treated wastewater to spill from its sewage plant and into the Cape Fear River, according to the News & Observer.

More than 488,000 households in North Carolina and 20,000 in SC are without power, according to state officials. "Please don't make yourself someone who needs to be rescued", he said even as rains stopped in several places after Florence moved on and the tired residents got a brief glimpse of sunshine on Monday.

Wilmington, on the banks of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, was nearly completely cut off by land but emergency management teams managed to truck food and water overnight into the port city of 120,000 people.

In northeastern Horry County, S.C., where two people died during the storm, National Guard troops attempted to divert water from the swollen Waccamaw River.

Mayor Bill Saffo said two routes were now open into Wilmington, which had been completely cut off by floodwaters, but those roads could close again as water swells the Cape Fear River on the city's west side.

Houston associate athletics director David Bassity said they weren't positive where the truck will actually be going on the East Coast, but that they are working with multiple organizations to determine the area where they can have the biggest impact. "We're going to get through this".

In some places, the rain finally stopped, and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. The largest amount so far was in Elizabethtown, which has received 35.93 inches (0.91 meters).

More than 25 inches of rain has already fallen in parts of North Carolina, and more than 15 inches of rain has fallen in parts of SC.

Some residents chose to stay behind when the storm crashed into the Carolinas. "It's looking like North Carolina at this point, but just with logistics we don't want to just send the truck out there and make it worse than it is".

"We had to evacuate". Six people died in SC, including four in auto accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.

"The neighbors told us our home was fine apart from a few branches down, so that's a relief at least", he added. Residents of inland communities who thought they were safe from the storm have to find high ground because of expected flooding.

More than half a million customers in the Carolinas were still without electricity on Monday, according to emergency officials.

A tornado watch was issued for parts of North and SC as emergency management officials also warned of the potential for dam failures and landslides.

Although the torrential rain from Florence may be coming to an end in the Carolinas, the slow-motion disaster of river flooding will continue to wreak havoc across the region for days - or potentially weeks.

The National Weather Service said there was an "elevated risk for landslides" in North Carolina.

Officials are monitoring the levee in Lumberton, NC, which had a breach over the weekend.

Numerous roads across eastern North Carolina were blocked by fallen trees and flooding including parts of I-95, a major north-south artery.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced meanwhile that she plans to visit North Carolina on Monday to discuss the response and recovery efforts and tour flood-affected areas.

Flooded roads have also prevented some North Carolina farmers from accessing their fields and livestock to assess damage, said Andrea Ashby, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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