UNC football players lend hand to Hurricane Florence victims

Greg Lawrence
September 22, 2018

Access improved at least temporarily to Wilmington, a North Carolina port city of 120,000 that has been isolated for days by high water.

Lying on Atlantic Ocean between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, the county of about 60,000 people is one of several areas across the Carolinas waiting anxiously for rivers to crest, a week after Florence dumped some three feet of rain in the region. But the state said in a Tweet late Wednesday: "No safe, stable and reliable route now exists for the public to get to and from Wilmington".

"People should always assume that flood water is always contaminated", Betsey Tilson of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said.

For example, the Cape Fear River in North Carolina crested at 61.6 feet on Wednesday - more than 25 feet above flood stage and 7 feet below the all-time record.

President Trump will visit North Carolina on Wednesday to view areas affected by the storm, and Bender said said the president "absolutely" needs to visit Pollocksville and other small towns.

The likelihood of more massive rainfalls also should raise red flags for both coastal and inland communities and get them to rethink plans for storm-related inundation, experts said. "We know it's coming", he said. "Today is the day that you need to start preparation for those evacuations".

Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility, reported that tens of thousands of customers in North and SC were still without power Thursday.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the damage in his state is in the billions of dollars, but there was no way to make a more accurate estimate while flooding continues.

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Now Smith, who counts himself lucky that his flock survived, is looking to quickly move his chickens to processing plants before the weekend, when more showers are forecast and the nearby Neuse River may flood further.

"Our people took a gut punch", Cooper said after the president's arrival.

Hurricane Florence, which came ashore last Friday with torrential rains, has caused more outdoor hog manure pits to collapse and overflow in North Carolina than Hurricane Matthew did in 2016, according to state data, stoking concern about possible water contamination. About 10,000 remained in shelters. They will likely be closed at least until almost the end of September, according to North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.

Less than a week since Florence made landfall, a huge part of North Carolina remains deluged.

Duke Energy Corp said on Friday that breaches in a cooling lake dam forced it to shut down its natural gas-fired L.V. Sutton plant in North Carolina. The utility said it did not think any coal ash was at risk.

With the Great Pee Dee River receding, state officials said Interstate 95 in SC would reopen after a safety check, but travelers couldn't get very far since the highway was still closed in North Carolina because of the flooded Lumber River.

Around 750 roads remained closed across North Carolina on Thursday, down from around 2,200, according to the state's Department of Transportation.

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