Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Death Toll From Florence Reaches 32, Officials Say

Death Toll From Florence Reaches 32, Officials Say

The advisory from the Fayetteville, North Carolina VA Medical Center was typical of others across the state where rivers were still on the rise and damaged roads and washed-out bridges made rescue and relief efforts risky. By Tuesday afternoon, it had topped 60 feet - and it still hasn't crested.

"This isn't a river ... this is Interstate 40", the state's transportation department tweeted, along with drone footage of the scene. Roads were being cleared and the landfill was open to accept storm refuse.

A power outage at a wastewater treatment plant in Wilmington resulted in partially treated sewage water being released into the Cape Fear River, said Reggie Cheatham, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Emergency Management.

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.

"I can't stress enough: Never drive through floodwaters".

Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon said that 255 primary roads are closed in the state, down from 356 on September 17. "And new road closings are still happening".

New Bern, North Carolina, a town of 30,000 located at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers, was one of the hardest-hit spots when Florence first came ashore and City Manager Mark Stephens said it was one of the worst storms in its 308-year history.

Price-gouging has been an issue, with more than 500 reports so far in North Carolina, according to CNN.

People clean their house after the passing of Hurricane Florence in New Bern North Carolina U.S
People clean their house after the passing of Hurricane Florence in New Bern North Carolina U.S

The 120,000 Wilmington, NC residents are cut off by floodwaters from the rest of the state.

"It's disgusting", said Mitch Colvin, the mayor of Fayetteville, North Carolina, in the eastern part of the state, where the rising Cape Fear River was expected to swamp bridges and cut his city in two.

Wilmington was the epicenter of Florence's destruction.

Estimated total rainfall across the state from Florence?

But by Tuesday morning, a bit of good news: Two roadways previously blocked are now passable, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

"But I do know that we will bounce back and that this community will recover". I-95 is also closed between exits 19 and 22 in Lumberton because of flooding.

One road was opened into Wilmington at least briefly, officials said, and items have been brought into the city by big military trucks and helicopters, which also have been used to pluck hundreds of harried people from atop homes and other structures.

Up to three inches of rain have already fallen in and around the Manchester area.

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