Water rescues continued as the remnants of Florence stalled over North Carolina, dumping several feet of rain and shattering records — and more was on the way. See social media posts from journalists and first responders.
WASHINGTON — A day after Florence’s landfall in North Carolina, water is shaping up to be the storm’s deadliest impact — and the rains will only keep coming as flood damage mounts.
Images on social media showed families being boated out of flooded neighborhoods, houses and vehicles crushed by debris and yachts adrift in the streets. Four deaths have already been blamed on Florence, and officials fear the death toll will only rise as the storm parks itself in the same place for days.
In North Carolina, the city of New Bern was particularly hard hit. Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water, while many of their neighbors awaited help. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed motel.
Volunteer rescue teams from across the country joined emergency responders in rescuing families trapped by the floodwaters. The Cajun Navy, a Louisiana-based group of private boat owners whose role proved pivotal in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, had rescued more than 150 people by Friday alone.
Meet Robert Simmons. Was stuck in his house since last night, when floodwaters began to rise in New Bern. A boat came and rescued him just now. He was sad to leave his father but left with his kitten hugging his neck. Cat’s name: Survivor, Simmons said. #HurricaneFlorence2018pic.twitter.com/vRR3lANDJe
With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence took down trees, power lines and damaged buildings. Wilmington, North Carolina saw a wind gust of 105 miles per hour, its highest in 60 years.
In Fayetteville and Wilmington, officials said more evacuations were possible as the Cape Fear River continues to rise above record heights. The river is forecast to crest more than three feet above its previous record set during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, when much of the same area experienced devastating floods.
In Jacksonville, a relentless band of heavy rain gutted buildings, drenched streets and left wildlife to battle the rising waters. As of Saturday morning, a large swath of the Carolinas were still seeing up to 2 inches of rainfall every hour, and relief might not come for days.
Low-lying coastal areas saw storm surges overtaking dune barriers. Storm surges — the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane — were as high as 10 feet, backing up onto rivers already swollen by nearly two feet of rain. As the hurricane began to push ashore, storm chasers saw sea water pouring into houses along the shore:
Water rescues were continuing on Saturday. New Bern assured its residents that additional resources were on their way, including from out of state. First responders from Maryland were among several teams from across the country joining the effort:
On the way to help — MD Task Force 1 loads gear onto buses, heading to South Carolina, ahead of Hurricane Florence. pic.twitter.com/NvDMdI3Zw4