Reports: Florence kills at least 11, triggers flash flood emergencies in North Carolina as ‘frightening’ rainfall ensues

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
September 15, 2018, 8:40:30 PM EDT

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More than 24 hours have passed since Florence made landfall and the storm is no longer a hurricane, but flooding issues only continue to mount across the Carolinas.

Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, early on Friday morning. The storm has been blamed for at least five fatalities as of Saturday morning.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay up-to-date with Florence’s impacts to the eastern coast of the United States.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence blew through New Bern, North Carolina.

(Twitter photo/@astro_ricky)

Astronaut Ricky Arnold captured the view from space as Florence made landfall on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AccuWeather Photo/Jonathan Petramala)

AccuWeather Weather News Reporter Jonathan Petramala captures the lower level of a parking structure in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "Despite this, the city has fared #Florence well," he tweeted on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(Twitter Photo/@HSVUtilities)

As of Saturday morning, Sept. 15, 2018, 1 million people in the Carolinas were without power. Florence made repair efforts tricky on Friday.

(Twitter Photo/@HSVUtilities)

As of Saturday morning, Sept. 15, 2018, 1 million people in the Carolinas were without power. Florence made repair efforts tricky on Friday.

(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

The mast of a sunken boat sits at a dock at the Grand View Marina in New Bern, North Carolina, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Winds and rains from Hurricane Florence caused the Neuse River to swell, swamping the coastal city.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A man crosses a flooded street in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Chris Seward)

People survey the damage caused by Hurricane Florence on Front Street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Ethan Hall, right, Michael Jenkins, center, and Nash Fralick, left, examine damage to Tidewater Brewing Co. in Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A fallen tree is shown after it crashed through the home where a woman and her baby were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

People drive an ATV through floodwaters on the riverwalk in Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(Image/Rebecca Wells Hooper)

Extreme storm surge in Outer Banks, North Carolina, during Hurricane Florence.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A tree uprooted by strong winds lies across a street in Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Debris from Hurricane Florence covers a street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(Image via Christa Gabrielle)

A tree twisted and avoided causing more damage to a house in Wilmington, North Carolina.

(Image via Shane Cannon)

Extreme flooding in Chocowinity, North Carolina, at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 14, 2018.

(Image via Shane Cannon)

Flooding in Chocowinity, North Carolina, at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 14, 2018.

(Image via Shane Cannon)

Flooding at Extreme Action Park on Whichards Beach Rd. in Chocowinity, North Carolina, at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

Kevin Knox loads his cat, Sasha, into a boat that came to rescue his family from its flooded neighborhood as a result of Florence, now a tropical storm, in New Bern, North Carolina, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(Twitter photo/@DukeEnergy)

Duke Energy said on Saturday, Sept.15, that it could take weeks before power is restored to some of the hardest-hit areas in the Carolinas.

(Twitter photo/@CityofNewBern)

New Bern, North Carolina, a coastal town, has been completely overtaken by flooding from Florence, as seen in this Sept. 15 photo.

(Twitter photo/@CityofNewBern)

Flooding inundated the coastal town of New Bern, North Carolina, after Florence moved through the region, as seen in this Sept. 15 photo.

(Twitter photo/@CityofNewBern)

Known for whimsical statues throughout the town, New Bern, North Carolina, was hit hard by Florence, uprooting some of them and carrying them through floodwaters.

(AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Members of a swift water rescue team check a submerged vehicle stranded by floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A tour boat is stacked up next to a railroad bridge as a result from Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(Twitter photo/@Sheriff_EWright)

Cumberland County, North Carolina, Sheriff Ennis Wright captured this image of the Cape Fear River on Sept. 15 as it continues to rise. It is expected to crest early next week.

(Image via Ea Ruth)

Flooding in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, during Hurricane Florence.

(Image via Ea Ruth)

Streets turned into rivers in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

(Image via Ea Ruth)

A beach neighborhood flooded in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

(Image via Ea Ruth)

Water almost reaching houses in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Members of the Nebraska Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team helps load an elderly resident onto a bus as they evacuate an assisted living facility to a church as a precaution against potential flooding the city could see from Florence in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Members of the North Carolina National Guard load up after stacking sand bags under a highway overpass near the Lumber River, which is expected to flood from Hurricane Florence's rain in Lumberton, North Carolina, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

(AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

A member of the U.S. Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after Florence hit Newport, North Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Chicken farm buildings are inundated with floodwater from Hurricane Florence near Trenton, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Hog farm buildings are inundated with floodwater from Hurricane Florence near Trenton, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.


Nearly 1 million customers have lost power across North and South Carolina since Florence first began impacting the region on Thursday.

Excessive rainfall will contribute to more catastrophic flooding across southeastern and south-central North Carolina and into northeastern South Carolina this weekend.

Gusty winds downing trees, isolated tornadoes and coastal flooding can further damage property and increase the number of residents without power.

Flo gif 9.16 AM


Rainfall totals have already exceeded a foot in several locations, and the rain is not expected to let up any time soon.

Early next week, Florence will bring a threat of heavy rainfall and flooding farther north up the spine of the Appalachians and perhaps into the eastern Ohio Valley.

correspondents

AccuWeather correspondents are live in the Carolinas bringing you coverage on our free app, AccuWeather.com, and the AccuWeather Network.


RELATED:
Flood disaster to last 1-2 weeks in Carolinas after Florence’s historic rain ends
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How 'Waffle House Index' plays a key role in FEMA hurricane response; 69 percent of Bojangles' are in Florence's path


7:32 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Curfew has been extended in Wilmington, North Carolina, after several people were taken into custody for looting.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is also warning people operating drones that they may face fines if they interfere with emergency response operations.

“Many aircraft that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes over areas affected by the storm. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place,” the FAA said on Saturday.



6:40 p.m. EDT Saturday:

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has closed I-95 south of US 64 to traffic due to flooding on the roadway.


4:45 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Large scale search and rescue missions are underway in coastal communities in North Carolina. Flooding will only get worse, so residents are advised to stay in their homes.

If you must evacuate your home, always treat downed power lines as if they are energized and dangerous. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and there’s no way to tell if a downed power line is still energized.

Any amount of water could become energized. Be careful not to touch water, or anything in contact with the water, when a downed power line is nearby.



3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday:

According to NC Department of Transportation (DOT), all lanes of I-95 are closed between exits 81 and 65 near Dunn due to flooding.

The DOT is urging residents to stay off of the roads.


2:13 p.m. EDT Saturday:

New Bern, North Carolina, has been completely inundated by intense rainfall.

The coastal town, famous for being the birthplace of Pepsi, is adorned with whimsical statues. Florence's powerful rains have washed away some of them, leading to eerie scenes of empty and flooded streets. Over 300 people have been rescued in the town since Thursday night.

new bern statue florence

Known for whimsical statues throughout the town, New Bern, N.C., was hit hard by Florence, uprooting some of them and carrying them through floodwaters. (Twitter photo/@CityofNewBern)


"Due to the existing and dangerous conditions, the City of New Bern has amended its city curfew, officials said in a statement. Effective immediately, the curfew will be in place until 7:00 a.m., on Sept.17. Please help keep the citizens and first responders safe by staying inside where you are safe and secure."

Additional rescues were completed in the city this morning.


Elsewhere, Charleston International Airport has resumed operations.


1:49 p.m. EDT Saturday:

AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer reported that high water has started to collect on Interstate 40 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and officials are closing off the road.



1:33 p.m. EDT Saturday:

The number of people in shelters is regularly changing as the situation on the ground evolves, according to a statement from the American Red Cross.

"We estimate that as of midnight (Sept. 15), more than 17,000 people were seeking refuge in over 240 Red Cross and community shelters to escape the storm’s wrath."

  • This includes at least 10,400 people in 153 shelters in North Carolina, and 6,200 people in 73 shelters in South Carolina. An additional 480 people stayed in 22 shelters in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland and Kentucky.
  • Working with partners, the Red Cross has served 95,600 meals and snacks across eight states.
  • About 2,200 Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country have been mobilized to help shelter, feed and support people affected by Florence.
  • The Red Cross is mobilizing 140 emergency response vehicles and more than 120 trailers of equipment and supplies, including more than 150,000 ready-to-eat meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 42,000 people.

The Red Cross is also working with the Southern Baptists to deploy nine field kitchens that can together produce 170,000 meals per day.


1:07 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Fayetteville, North Carolina, police say there is a mandatory evacuation for citizens of Cumberland County, the City of Fayetteville, and the town of Wade due to rising river levels. Residents are being told to leave immediately.



12:35 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows how slowly Florence is moving over land.


AccuWeather Meteorologist and Social Media Manager Jesse Ferrell highlights some of the rivers in the Carolinas that are expected to be over flood stage in the next week.


The United States Coast Guard said it has rescued five people in North Carolina since Florence began. The Coast Guard also conducted an air assessment of impacted areas in the state early this morning.

"Weather conditions are allowing us to accelerate operations in the northeast portion of the state," said Capt. Bion Stewart, leader of the Coast Guard's response to Florence in North Carolina. "We continue to assess conditions in the central and southeast portion of the state to identify opportunities to safely increase operations in those areas as well."


12:12 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Evacuation orders are being lifted in parts of South Carolina. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster will hold a media briefing at 2:30 p.m. EDT.


11:43 a.m. EDT Saturday

Rainfall totals continue to increase as Florence remains over the Carolinas. Here are the highest totals in North Carolina.

If confirmed, that 30 inches in Swansboro would shatter North Carolina’s tropical rainfall record of 24.06 inches set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Florence rain Saturday 9/15 12 pm



11 a.m. EDT Saturday:

Interstate 95 is closed in both directions between Fayetteville and Dunn, North Carolina, specifically between milemarker 65 and 70 due to high water, law enforcement reports.

At least 60 primary roads in North Carolina are currently closed.


9:30 a.m. EDT Saturday:

Rainfall amounts topping 23 inches in the city of Newport, North Carolina. Mandatory evacuation orders were put in place in Harnett County after models predicted rivers to surpass crest levels this weekend, resulting in extensive flooding.

Areas of Myrtle Beach are also expected to experience major flooding, as Mayor Brenda Bethune said that the storm "can cripple us for quite a few weeks."


The National Guard also shared that 7,500 members would be traveling to storm-stricken areas to help with. Of those 7,500, members from the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team and 36 National Air Guardsmen from Alaska have traveled to the area.



7:45 a.m. EDT Saturday:

A flash flood emergency is unfolding across a stretch of North Carolina as a stationary heavy rain band from Florence has been sitting over the region, which spans from Wilmington to Jacksonville and Swansboro along the coast to just south of Raleigh and Fayetteville inland.

AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said that the persistent rain band on the south side of Florence is "just frightening."


Meanwhile, a strong southeast winds will continue to push water into the river inlet causing tidal flooding, Rayno said.



6:20 a.m. EDT Saturday:

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is urging people to stay off of the roadways due to flooding and downed trees and power lines.



4:15 a.m. EDT Saturday:

As Florence continues to slowly sink west-southwestward as a tropical storm, conditions will continue to deteriorate across South Carolina through Saturday.

South Carolina Highway Patrol reported that fallen trees are blocking roads across the state, including to the northwest of Columbia.

Winds are gusting between 30 and 45 mph in the area. This, combined with heavy rainfall saturating the ground, will likely lead to an increase in tree damage throughout Saturday.

SC Radar 9.15 AM



2:30 a.m. EDT Saturday:

Power outages have exceeded 900,000 customers across North and South Carolina, according to poweroutage.us. Most of these outages have occurred in North Carolina.

Heavy rainfall also continues to pound the region, delaying crew efforts to restore electricity to customers and causing water levels to steadily rise on streams and rivers.

The Neuse River near Goldsboro, North Carolina, is expected to crest just shy of its record level of 29.7 feet late this weekend and early next week, according to hydrologists at the National Weather Service.



12:30 a.m. EDT Saturday:

As Florence's rain bands continue to pound southeastern North Carolina, rainfall totals are climbing.

Nearly 2 feet of rain has fallen in Newport, North Carolina, with rain continuing to pour down.


The extreme rainfall totals are overwhelming roads with high water, with dozens of road closures reported.



10:00 p.m. EDT Friday:

Downpours continue to flood parts of North and South Carolina, downing many trees and power lines.

There is also a tornado warning for Swansboro N.C., Cape Carteret N.C., Cedar Point N.C., La Grange N.C., Trenton N.C. until 11:15 p.m. EDT.



8:20 p.m. EDT Friday:

The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina issued a Flash Flood Emergency for Carteret, Jones, Craven and Pamlico Counties in North Carolina due to widespread flooding.

The unprecedented rainfall approaching 2 feet in Carteret County is being exasperated by an intense rainband that extends into nearby counties. A heavy band of rain is still making its way into that area.

Most roads across the area are becoming impassable and citizens are losing time to evacuate before the flood water becomes too high.

The NWS is having difficulty communicating the warning to the public and residents of the area.


7:00 p.m. EDT Friday:

Hundreds of residents in New Bern, N.C. are still awaiting rescue as more than 10 feet of powerful storm surge flooded the area. Crews were able to rescue more than 360 people so far.


5:30 p.m. EDT Friday:

According to reports, a fifth person was killed after he was blown down by the wind while going outside to check on his hunting dogs.


4:40 p.m. EDT Friday:

Florence has weakened slightly and is now a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. However, it will continue to bring life-threatening flooding to the Carolinas into the weekend.

President Donald Trump plans to visit areas affected by Florence next week once his travel will not disrupt any recovery efforts.

“More than 3,800 Federal Employees, including more than 1,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are working with State and local partners to respond to Florence,” the White House said on its website.



3:45 p.m. EDT Friday:

The number of fatalities linked to Florence has risen to four.

One man died in North Carolina when plugging in a generator. A woman having a heart attack also died with paramedics unable to reach the woman in time due to trees and debris blocking the road.


For previous reports on Florence, click here.

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