Florence: North Carolina’s rivers still rising after record rain

Officials says ‘danger still immediate’ as record flooding continues to plague parts of the US state.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence rush down Cool Spring Street, inundating the St. James Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina US.
Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence rush down Cool Spring Street, inundating the St James Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina US. [EPA-EFE/Jim Lo Scalzo]

More than 1,200 roads in North Carolina were closed on Monday due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical depression, which brought record rain and storm surges to the state. 

At least 23 people have been killed as a result of the storm, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane. 

The slow-moving storm has dumped up to 91cm of rain on the state since Thursday, displacing thousands. The flooding could persist for several weeks in some areas. 

“For many parts of North Carolina, the danger is still immediate,” the state’s governor, Roy Cooper, told reporters on Monday. “Flood waters are rising as rivers crest and they will for days.” 

The dead included a one-year-old boy, who was swept away from his mother as they tried to escape their car amid floodwaters. Officials warned residents to avoid driving around barricades. 

Cooper said about 2,600 people were rescued in North Carolina, along with 300 animals, and that the rescues were continuing. About 14,000 people are in shelters, officials said. 

Early on Monday, the rain was still falling in the middle of the state as another band of heavy rain was heading for Wilmington, a city already largely cut off from the outside world by flooding. 

The Lumber River at Lumberton was at 6.71 metres, 7cm above the old record and maybe more dramatically, 2.75 metres above flood level. This level is forecast to be maintained for the next five days.

The Cape Fear River at Chinquapin was up to 7.38 metres on Sunday morning, 22cm into a new record, and again, a dramatic 3.42m above flood level. 

Florence is now a tropical depression and on its way north through Virginia, Pennsylvania, New England and Nova Scotia.

Source: Al Jazeera