The remains of what was Hurricane Florence have at last moved off to the Northeast and are still producing heavy rain across parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. But before it left the area, the slow-moving storm dropped three feet of rain on parts of North Carolina. The runoff from all that water is continuing to swell area streams and rivers, so that days after the storm’s first impact flooding is still far from peak in some areas. The city of Wilmington remains all but cut off from the surrounding world. with access limited by swelling rivers that have blocked major highways.
CBS News reports that half a million people in the area are still without power. The Cape Fear River reached record levels overnight and is expected to crest far above flood stage some time on Tuesday afternoon. FEMA has set up distribution points within Wilmington for residents, some of whom are running low on food and water after days under Florence’s rain and wind. Twenty high-water trucks have arrived from Fort Bragg, carrying food and water enough for 60,000 people — about half the population of Wilmington — for the next four days. Those stores in the area that remain open are running low on essential supplies.
Meanwhile, both emergency officials and volunteers from multiple states continue to conduct rescues of families stranded in attics, on rooftops, and in flooded vehicles. The total number of these rescues is now in the thousands with 700 rescues in the last two days just in the Wilmington area. The Louisiana-based volunteer group known as the “Cajun Navy” has been credited with rescuing over 10,000 people. CBS was with the group as they rescued 40 residents of a flooded nursing home near Lumberton, North Carolina.
Most residents of the Outer Banks, which took the brunt of the storms wind and well as suffering from storm surge and rain, were evacuated before Florence arrived. NOAA is now making available high-resolution post-storm satellite images with which those living on the barrier islands can check on the conditions of their homes. However, it may still be some time before many of these residents are able to visit their homes in person, as roads in many areas remain flooded and bridges and overpasses may have suffered damage.