See Florence's destruction in the Carolinas

Even as Hurricane Florence became a tropical depression and moves inland, officials say the danger of extreme flooding is high.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 5:11 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 5:29 PM

Tropical Storm Florence's relentless rain is flooding parts of the Carolinas and promises even more for days, officials said Saturday, a day after it landed as a hurricane and left at least 13 people dead -- including a baby.

The issues prompted North Carolina to tell drivers coming down Interstate 95 from Virginia to go around -- the entire state. The state wants motorists to go west to Tennessee and take Interstate 75 into Georgia.

"The one thing I want to prevent is thousands of people stranded on our interstates or US routes," said state Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdan.

A 73-mile stretch of the highway closed Saturday because of flooding and an accident involving a tractor-trailer.

Officials warned the flooding was only just starting.

"The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it ... made landfall 24 hours ago," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday morning. "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns."

The storm's center is crawling over South Carolina, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina -- setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.

Serious flooding is expected throughout the two states, and some rivers may not crest for another three to five days.

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 796,000 customers in that state and South Carolina.

It has trapped people in flooded homes, with citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state joining local emergency professionals to try to bring them to safety.

Key developments

• Florence's location: By 5 p.m. Saturday, Florence's center was 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was moving west at 2 mph, the National Weather Service said. The storm was expected to dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend.

• Winds: Sustained winds of at least 39 mph can be felt as far away as 150 miles from the center of Florence.

Looting arrests: Wilmington police arrested five people who allegedly were looting a Dollar General store, authorities said. Another person was arrested after they allegedly looted an Exxon gas station and convenience store in Wilmington on Saturday evening, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

• No electricity: About 760,000 customers are without power in North Carolina, emergency officials said. In South Carolina, some 36,000 customers are without power, officials said.

• Trapped and rescued: In New Bern, North Carolina, officials tweeted Saturday afternoon that water rescues had been completed. In nearby Onslow County, three US Coast Guard helicopters were helping with rescue missions, officials said.

• Much flooding to come: By storm's end, up to 40 inches of rain will have fallen in parts of North Carolina and far northeastern South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said. Some other parts of South Carolina could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said. Florence "will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and South Carolina for some time," NOAA official Steve Goldstein said.

• Record rainfall: Florence has dumped more than 30 inches of rain in Swansboro, North Carolina, as of Saturday morning, breaking the record for rainfall from a tropical system in the state. The previous record of 24.06 inches was set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

'It's time to go'

Across the Carolinas, officials are sounding the alarm: More communities will flood as rivers collect water from upstream and spill over.

In Rocky Point, North Carolina, Susan Bostic and her family were packing to leave Saturday morning, even though Florence's center was long gone.

The Northeast Cape Fear River flooded there after Hurricane Floyd, destroying her original home. This round of flooding is predicted to be worse -- cresting at what would be a record 22.8 feet just to the north by Tuesday -- and the river already was encroaching into her yard Saturday.

"We know it's time to go," Bostic told CNN. "We don't (where we're going) yet. We just know we're getting out of here."

Rapidly rising river

Anxiety also reigned Saturday in Lumberton, a North Carolina city that was submerged for days after 2016's Hurricane Matthew.

The water in the Lumber River was rising faster than officials expected. It went up 5 feet overnight and was at 17.6 feet, more than 4 feet above flood stage, by Saturday night. It was expected to reach 24 feet by lunchtime Sunday.

Corey Walters, the city's deputy director of public works, said this was a worst-case storm scenario.

There is flooding "everywhere in the city," he said, and "the rescues are non-stop." There have been "hundreds of rescues."

Volunteers and city workers have been filling sandbags, trying to plug a low point in the city's levee system before the Lumber River crests.

Official predict that when the water reaches 26 feet, the barriers will be overwhelmed.

The city installed 11 pumps to help deal with the river, but Mayor John Cantey said he wants people living near it to get out.

There is a mandatory evacuation order for the area, officials said.

In Cumberland County, which includes Fayetteville, officials ordered people within a mile of the Cape Fear River to evacuate by 3 p.m. Sunday.

In South Carolina, the worst is likely yet to come for communities such as Conway, about 15 miles inland from Myrtle Beach.

Water was rising Saturday morning in a flood plain near the Waccamaw River, lapping up against homes and pooling over at least one main road.

At least 13 have been killed

Florence has left at least 13 people dead, including a mother and her child who died after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina, police said. The father was hospitalized with injuries.

In Hampstead, North Carolina, emergency responders going to a call for cardiac arrest found their path blocked by downed trees. When they got to the home, the woman was dead, authorities said.

Two men were also killed in Lenoir County, North Carolina. One was electrocuted while trying to connect two extension cords and the other while checking on his dogs outside, emergency officials said.

Three people died Saturday in Duplin County, North Carolina, because of flash flooding and "swift water on roadways," the sheriff's office there said.

Also, officials in Cumberland County determined that a fire that killed two people Friday was storm-related.

In South Carolina's Union County, a 61-year-old woman was killed Friday night when the car she was driving struck a downed tree, state emergency management spokesman Antonio Diggs said.

A man and woman died in Horry County due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Earlier Saturday, officials in North Carolina's Carteret County said two other people were dead as a result of the storm. They later clarified those deaths were not related to Florence.

She called 911. No one came

Those who stayed behind gave harrowing accounts of getting trapped in their homes surrounded by water.

Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina. But the water kept rising.

She, her husband and three children escaped into the attic, but the winds howled, and the family fled to an upper floor bedroom.

As they waited for emergency workers, they heard neighbors screaming for help. Her 6-foot-2 husband went to see what he could do, but the water was above his chest, she said.

"It's the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help, and you can't do anything," she said.

She said she called 911, but no one came. Eventually, a volunteer rescue team from Indiana arrived with a boat and rescued them.

States of emergency

Officials have declared states of emergency in several states, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

Sign up for Florence alerts

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate South Carolina, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

As it moves near Ohio and West Virginia, it will become a remnant low. Then it will swing to the northeast in the middle of next week on a path to the Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia, where it will be an extratropical low with gale-force winds.

West Lafayette
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 74°
Rensselaer
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Crawfordsville
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 76°
Frankfort
Overcast
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Delphi
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Monticello
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Logansport
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 79°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events