A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farm house that is surrounded by flooded fields from tropical storm Florence in Hyde County, N.C., Saturday, 15 September 2018. Photo: Steve Helber / AP

By Jorge L. Ortiz and John Bacon
17 September 2018

(USA TODAY) – Storm-weary residents of North Carolina struggled Monday to loosen the grip of Florence, the lingering killer that has closed more than 100 roads, cut off power to almost 500,000 homes and businesses and essentially cut off the city of Wilmington from the world.

At least 17 people have died in the wreckage of the hurricane-turned-tropical depression that dumped 30 inches of rain in parts of the state since last week.

In Wilmington, officials were planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city of almost 120,000 people. The National Weather Service has measured 23.59 inches of rain at the city's airport since Thursday.

“Our roads are flooded,” said Woody White, chairman of the board of commissioners in New Hanover County. “There is no access to Wilmington.”

The tragedies were widespread. Almost 200 miles to the west of Wilmington, the Union County Sheriff's Office said swift water rescue teams were conducting a desperate search for a 1-year-old child swept away from his mother after a flooded creek overwhelmed their car.

Dams and levees in areas pelted by Florence were showing signs of distress as rivers overran their banks and authorities warned of more flooding to come. Landslides have become a concern as well — especially in North Carolina’s western mountains.

Tens of thousands faced mandatory evacuation orders from communities along the state’s steadily rising rivers — the Cape Fear, Little, Lumber, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers are all projected to overrun their banks. Thousands of residents have taken refuge in more than 100 shelters opened across the state.

"You know it’s hard to leave home," Gov. Roy Cooper said while touring a string of shelters across the state. "You miss it as soon as you walk out the door. But tens of thousands of North Carolinians have had to do that this week." […]

A yacht rests on the side of a downtown hotel in New Bern, N.C., Sunday, 16 September 2018. Hurricane Florence brought heavy rains and winds to the area. Photo: Tariq Zehawi / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY

A dam failure in Hoke County, North Carolina, west of Fayetteville, prompted officials to evacuate areas downstream and raised the specter of further such failures.

In Rowan County, north of Charlotte, a flash flood warning was issued Sunday night over concerns about the Lake Corriher levee, which had a partial breach.

In New Bern, North Carolina, officials said Florence had damaged 4,200 homes and more than 300 commercial buildings in his city, forcing 1,200 residents into shelters.

"Our city has suffered one of the worst storms ever in its 308 year history," City Manager Mark Stephens said. [more]

'There is no access to Wilmington' as Florence flooding overwhelms North Carolina

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