Governor Roy Cooper today urged North Carolinians to beware of rising floodwaters in eastern and central counties across the Sandhills and in the mountains. Some rivers will begin to see major flooding today continuing into middle of next week. Twice as many roads were closed Saturday as flood waters rose across the state, and swift water rescues continued in eastern North Carolina.
“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall just over 24 hours ago,” Gov. Cooper said. “More people now face imminent threat than when the storm was offshore. I cannot overstate it: Flood waters are rising. If you aren’t watching for them, you are risking your life.”
A federal Expedited Major Federal Disaster declaration was approved late Friday for individual and public assistance for several hard hit counties that will help with damage repair and recovery. The list of counties in this declaration is expected to grow.
Gov. Cooper cautioned people in affected areas against leaving safe shelter to return home to look at damage, or to use drones for this purpose, as this can interfere with and delay the work of emergency responders. Five deaths have been confirmed as related to the devastating storm and more are under investigation.
Gov. Cooper reminded people in affected areas that most storm-related deaths occur from drowning in floodwaters. He cautioned people to never drive through still or moving water covering roadways – and to not return to hard hit areas until an official ‘all clear.’ Closed highways are not expected to reopen before waters recede and the roadways can be inspected. Before drivers hit the road, state officials recommend you check DriveNC.gov for the latest road conditions as they are changing rapidly.
Rain and Storm Surge
A large portion of eastern North Carolina has received 10 to 25 inches of rain with additional rains expected to bring catastrophic flooding. Overnight, rescue teams from North Carolina, other states, the National Guard and the Coast Guard saved people from flooded homes and more rescues are underway. As of 6 a.m. today, state emergency management officials say ground and air crews report rescuing 245 people and 77 animals, with the most rescues occurring in Carteret, Lenoir and Onslow counties.
Life threatening storm surge remains a threat along the coast through tonight. Heavy rain will cause catastrophic flash flooding that will spread westward into the Sandhills, the Piedmont Triad and Charlotte. As the rains move westward through the weekend they will bring the threat of flooding to the mountains and the potential for numerous landslides late this weekend and early next week.
Supplies, equipment, ambulances, strike teams and other resources are being deployed to western counties based on flood modeling. Some of the areas that will be impacted have rarely experienced significant flooding. People are urged to pay close attention to forecasts and heed warnings from local officials.
“North Carolina Emergency Management experts have been sharing flood mapping with local officials,” Gov. Cooper said. “If you are told to evacuate, please do so immediately. It could save your life.”
Major River Flooding Forecast
Major flooding is expected along numerous rivers throughout the state. For the latest information on predicted flooding in your area, check FIMAN.nc.gov. The FIMAN web site (short for Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network) provides real-time flood information throughout North Carolina.
Thousands of Evacuees in Shelters
This morning, nearly 20,000 people were housed in more than 150 shelters across the state. The Friday Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill opened this morning as a mass shelter. Joel Coliseum at Wake Forest University also is open as a mass shelter.
Shelters began opening Tuesday, with more in the process of opening today to take in people displaced by evacuations. Shelter locations are listed at http://www.ncdps.gov/florence and, once open, will be listed on the ReadyNC app.
Power Outages Continue to Grow Across
North Carolina, nearly 800,000 customers were without power as of noon. Utility companies estimate those numbers will continue to grow due to gusty winds and falling trees.
Thousands of utility workers are stationed in the state to work on restoring power as quickly as it is safe to do so. North Carolinians can help by not returning to evacuated areas until they are given the all clear so that utility crews can get their work done more quickly and safely.
Resources on Hand to Respond to the Storm
Gov. Cooper has activated more than 2,800 National Guard soldiers to preserve life and safety, provide route clearance of roads, and support communications and logistics. North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA have staged supplies and equipment strategically to respond to the storm, and first responders across the state are ready. Additional emergency personnel from 13 states have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, including swift water rescue teams, emergency medical personnel, and others.
2-1-1 Call Line Open 24/7 for People in Need of Help
The statewide information line can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing and other storm-related details. Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, or text Florence to 898211. The information line is staffed around the clock to connect North Carolinians to storm resources.
The Governor’s Office has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund for donations to support North Carolina’s response to Hurricane Florence. This fund has been used in previous disasters. To donate, visit governor.nc.gov.