Wilmington Isle: Food, water handouts set in isolated city

Christopher Davidson
September 22, 2018

Residents of Georgetown County, South Carolina, where five rivers flow into the ocean, were preparing on Friday for a deluge of water in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which has killed at least 40 people.

Thousands of rescues have taken place in the two states and over 650 people were taken to safety in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, said Barbi Baker, a spokeswoman for New Hanover County. The state is closed for business.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

At least six deaths have been confirmed in neighboring SC with the latest being the driver of a pickup truck who drove into standing water in Lexington County.

Mayor Bill Saffo said he was working with the governor's office to get more fuel into Wilmington. "Anyone trying to get in here - don't try".

Those high waters have kept even Federal Emergency Management Agency crews and Duke Energy trucks away.

Wilmington was also the site of the first deaths of the hurricane. The 8-month-old's mother was also killed.

The Lumber River cuts through the city of Lumberton in North Carolina, which has received 22.76 inches of rain since Thursday. The state has 16 rivers at major flood stage; three still have not yet peaked.

They sandbagged the doors, removed area rugs and propped wood blocks under the furniture as they kept an eye on a dock across the churning channel to monitor the water level.

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The makeshift barrier failed Sunday but was still slowing the water, said Corey Walters, deputy director of public works. "During Matthew the water never reached their house", she said. Brian Lindsay shot a drone video on Monday of a flooded 3-mile section of I-95.

The remnants of deadly Hurricane Florence brought more misery to the waterlogged Carolinas on Monday with officials warning the worst is yet to come, as heavy rain persisted and swollen rivers posed a growing threat.

In Bladen County, North Carolina, around 100 people and 33 animals were rescued "in a unsafe operation in the middle of the night" after a dam burst, Governor Roy Cooper said in a twitter post on Friday. "We've got a big airport". "Some locations won't see rivers crest until this weekend and flooding won't subside until next week", he said in another twitter post. The utility said it could not rule out the possibility that coal ash from a dump adjacent to the plant, which formerly burned coal, might be flowing into the nearby Cape Fear River. He added that "this storm has never been more risky than it is right now" in some parts of North Carolina. "They can't say for certain what it might do", Conway resident Joe Holmes told the AP on Monday.

Brad Zerivitz shot a drone video of downtown Fayetteville for the American Red Cross that illustrates the extent of the flooding. In the port city of Wilmington, residents awoke to the sound of power transformers blowing up, plunging homes into darkness as Hurricane Florence's howling winds whipped through the streets sending metal signs, water and debris flying.

Flooding has caused several other deaths, including that of a man who drowned attempting to cross a road in Marlboro County, SC, on Monday.

"I know a lot of people came out to help previous year, and I feel like we just need to return that type of favor", Cougars point guard Corey Davis told the Houston Chronicle while helping to load the truck on Monday. They are usually bolted to the ground, but the statues' thick pedestals were uprooted and washed away, the city said.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

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