The longest week: Carolinas are worn out by Florence

Some 4,700 people across North Carolina have been rescued by boat or helicopter since the storm made landfall, twice as many as in Hurricane Matthew two years ago, according to state officials.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Waccamaw River in Conway, which was already at 13.5 feet above flood level on September 19, and was expected to rise by 1.5 feet a day starting September 20.

That Hurricane Florence broke rainfall records for tropical storms in both North and SC shouldn't be surprising, as global climate change has increased extreme precipitation in all areas of the continental United States.

Florence is blamed for at least 41 deaths in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The barrier island community of Emerald Isle started feeling the impacts of Florence more than a day before the hurricane made landfall, and a USA government water monitoring gauge ultimately recorded water levels over 6 feet (2 meters) above normal there.

People in coastal Horry County and nearby areas had enough warning and certainty about where the water was going that hundreds loaded furniture from their homes into trucks and flatbeds to take to higher ground.

To the president's right is North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper; to his left, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen.

The deaths, which have occurred in three states, include those of two women who were being taken to a mental health facility when the van they were riding in was engulfed by floodwaters from the Little Pee Dee River in SC, authorities said.

There are still unanswered questions surrounding the deaths of two mental health patients who drowned Tuesday in a prison transport van swept away by rising floodwater in SC.

The Little Pee Dee River and the Lumber River have started to drop near Nichols, where the whole town of 360 was under water for the second time in two years. Rescue teams plucked the deputies from the top of the vehicle.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Sheriff Phillip Thompson told the Greenville News.

"We've got a long road make sure we build back to where we need to be", Cooper continued. We work hard to protect and to serve our citizens.

"We can't wait to go back home and live a normal life again, hopefully on Wednesday".

Emergency officials say it will be a close call if the river tops U.S. Highway 52, the main north-south highway through the county and its connection to Charleston.

Cooper said Florence was an "epic" storm and noted that farmers suffered significant losses and scores of people lost their homes.

"If we really want accountability, put it all out", she said. The department says it is dispatching inspectors to start assessing damage and ensure food safety.

A new round of evacuations was ordered in SC as the trillions of gallons of water dumped by Hurricane Florence meanders to the sea, raising river levels and threatening more destruction. Over 60,000 customers were without power in North Carolina early on Friday.

Michele Nix, from Kinston, serves as the vice chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.

The county of 60,000 people, on the Atlantic coast between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, is one of several areas in the Carolinas waiting anxiously for rivers to crest, a week after Florence dumped some three feet of rain on the region.

  • Joe Gonzales