MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of people are still in shelters in North Carolina anxiously waiting to find out if they have a home to go back to. Heavy rains and swelling rivers are still a major concern as rising flood waters may affect communities barely touched by Florence. The storm is being blamed for at least 37 deaths in three states.
BY THE NUMBERS
—Heavy rains: Nearly 36 inches (91 centimeters) of rain has fallen over Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and other towns have seen roughly 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rainfall since Thursday
—High water: The Cape Fear River crested at 61.5 feet (18.7 meters) early Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
—In the dark: About 205,000 outages, mostly in North Carolina
—Damage estimates: billion to billion in lost economic output and property damage, according to economists at Moody’s Analytics
—Evacuations: Tens of thousands ordered out of communities along North Carolina’s steadily rising rivers, while over 2.4 million people in southern China’s Guangdong province were warned to escape Mangkhut
—To the rescue: Over 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel with 36 helicopters and over 200 boats were working in North Carolina, and the Defense Department assigned 13,500 military personnel to help relief efforts
—Safe now: North Carolina’s governor says 2,600 people and 300 animals had been rescued
—Blocked: 1,200 North Carolina roads closed, including 357 primary roads
—City underwater: 4,300 homes in New Bern, North Carolina, inundated by flooding, or one-third of the entire number of homes in the city
IMAGES FROM THE GROUND
Authorities say two female inmates being transported to a mental health facility in South Carolina drowned in rising flood waters after the van they were in was swept away. High-water rescue teams plucked two deputies from the top of the van. The deaths are being investigated.
Officials in the Carolinas are worried about what deaths are still to come amid the swelling rivers and flooding from Florence’s crawl across both states. So far, several people have died after being swept up in the storm waters , and falling trees have killed two small children.
A Philippine police officer says residents of a mining camp in a mountain village refused to leave ahead of the powerful typhoon, believing their chapel and nearby bunkhouses were on stable ground. Now dozens of people are missing after a massive landslide buried the structures.
WILMINGTON GETS SUPPLIES
One of North Carolina’s largest cities still is mostly cut off by floodwaters, so food, water and tarps are being brought into Wilmington by big military trucks and helicopters. More than 60 percent of homes and businesses were without power, and crews have completed about 700 rescues in the county where Wilmington is located.
SAVE HOMES OR A HIGHWAY?
A wall of concrete barriers and plastic sheets is being built along U.S. Highway 501 to save the main road into Myrtle Beach , South Carolina, from going underwater. Residents in the nearby town of Conway worry that’s going to send water from the rising Waccamaw River to flood their homes instead.
PLACE TO CALL HOME
It’s too early to tell how many people will end up homeless because of Florence. Rivers swollen by days of rain still threaten communities barely touched by the storm. Thousands are already in shelters in North Carolina. Mike Sprayberry, director the state Division of Emergency Management, says FEMA officials have been in the state for days looking at housing options for the displaced.
At least one North Carolina dam has breached so far under the strain of Florence’s flooding, but officials say no homes were affected. False alarms about dam failures have caused panic in a state where there is a lot of concern about whether many dams already in poor condition will hold as rivers keep rising.
EXPLAINING THE DANGER
Experts say people likely got complacent about Florence because of a scale that only categorizes hurricanes by wind strength . Water is responsible for the vast majority of deaths in hurricanes and tropical storms, but that hazard isn’t included in the system forecasters used when they described the storm as a “Category 1 hurricane” at landfall.
For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes