Reports: Wilmington among communities cut off by floodwaters as Florence death toll rises to 17

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 17, 2018, 9:36:25 AM EDT

As of 9:32 a.m. EDT Monday, this reports story is no longer being updated. For the latest forecast on Florence's remaining impacts in the Carolinas click here, and for the storm's flood threat in the Northeast click here.

Florence has led to at least 17 deaths as its devastating rainfall continues to inundate North Carolina.

Nearly 1 million people lost power at the height of the storm. Flooding has taken over entire towns, and officials are working frantically to restore power and rescue those trapped.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay up to date with Florence’s impacts.

Thousands of National Guard troops are in the area, while some good Samaritans have also been on the scene.

(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.

Some of the hardest-hit areas may be without power for weeks, according to Duke Energy officials.

The storm is no longer a hurricane, but flooding issues only continue to mount across the Carolinas.

Some areas in the Carolinas that have received more than 2 feet are at risk for additional downpours and flooding throughout Sunday.


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

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9:11 a.m. EDT Monday:

Tornado damage is being reported in Elm City, North Carolina. Buildings have suffered damage and trees and power lines are down.

8:13 a.m. EDT Monday:

Power is gradually being restored in Wilmington. In New Bern, the city is limiting access into areas where homes are heavily damaged.

5:25 a.m. EDT Monday:

As Florence begins to track away from the Carolinas, flood concerns are mounting in the mountains of Virginia.

Numerous roads in Floyd County, Virginia, are washed out or closed due to flooding, according to the Virginia Department of Highways. A portion of Route 744E has also been washed out in Roanoke County.

4:20 a.m. EDT Monday:

The Black River near Tomahawk, North Carolina, has reached record levels early this morning, with water levels steadily rising.

2:15 a.m. EDT Monday:

Flash flooding has been reported across the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, with multiple people rescued from flooded vehicles.

Portions of the Pinecroft Apartments are being evacuated due to rising water, according to a 911 call center.

1:00 a.m. EDT Monday:

Law enforcement report tin roofing and debris in the road near Roseboro and Salemburg, North Carolina, from a possible tornado.

The area was under a tornado warning from 12:10-12:45 a.m. EDT.

12:30 a.m. EDT Monday:

In Orange County, North Carolina, Camelot Village near Bolin Creek is being evacuated due to flash flooding, according to emergency managers.

Just outside of Asheboro, North Carolina, three high water rescues have taken place, with up to 50 roads closed due to flooding.

10:50 p.m. EDT Sunday:

A confirmed tornado is located 11 miles southwest of Whiteville, North Carolina, and moving north at 15 mph.

A tornado warning is in effect for central Columbus County until 11:00 p.m. EDT Sunday.

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9:45 p.m. EDT Sunday:

The town of Landis is assessing the need to evacuate residents because of a partial breach at the Lake Corriher levee, Rowan County Emergency Management officials said.

8:45 p.m. EDT Sunday:

Ashe County emergency managers have reported the imminent failure of Headwaters Dam in Creston, North Carolina. A Flash Flood warning has been issued for the area and evacuations are in progress.

The Ashe County Emergency Manager reported that the Headwaters Dam in the Headwaters subdivision of Creston was in danger of being breached. People downstream of 5010 3 Top Road are being asked to evacuate until 8:00 a.m. EDT Monday.

7:50 p.m. EDT Sunday:

Jill Morehead, Mercy Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader, is in Charlotte, N.C., preparing to go out and assess the damage in preparation of the global organization's response to Florence.

“The rivers are at record levels already, and they’re still not expected to crest until Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday," Morehead said.

Once the assessment is complete, the Mercy Corps anticipate providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable communities that were hardest hit, so people can purchase what they need most to begin recovering from the storm.

"We’ve had four more inches of rain today, and there are still flash flood and extreme flooding event warnings. Movement is difficult, and we’re expecting the same rain for the next couple of days. Florence is just stalled here and she won’t leave,” Morehead said.

Flooding in Yadkin County, North Carolina, is projected to crest the Yadkin river in Jonesville to 26.6 feet at or around 12:00 p.m. EDT Monday.

6:30 p.m. EDT Sunday:

At this time, there is no access to Wilmington, according to New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Woody White. Those who evacuated should wait to return.

Officials are planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city of nearly 120,000 people.

According to reports, there have been 465 car and home rescues this weekend in New Hanover County alone.

5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday:

Due to flooding in southern and eastern North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) advises that motorists do not travel. They report several sections of I-95 and I-40 are flooded.

NCDOT said travel should be completely avoided in areas south of US 64 and east of I-73/I-74.

3:52 p.m. EDT Sunday:

A tornado warning remains in effect until 4:00 p.m. EDT for southeastern Scotland County.

At 3:52 p.m. EDT, a confirmed tornado was located over Maxton, or near Laurinburg, moving north at 40 mph. Law enforcement confirmed the tornado touchdown in a farm field west of Rowland, North Carolina.

3:20 p.m. EDT Sunday:

Even when the heaviest rain departs the Carolinas, flooded areas can make it difficult for crews to reach downed power lines this week, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Krissy Pydynowski.

"Large rivers in southern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina can stay above major flood stage through most of this week, if not even longer," Pydynowski said.

2:00 p.m. EDT Sunday:

The National Weather Service has updated preliminary rainfall totals across North and South Carolina from Hurricane Florence received as of 2 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Some parts of North Carolina have seen nearly 3 feet of rain from Florence so far.

1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday:

A flash flood emergency was issued for the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. At 1:23 p.m. EDT, emergency management reported severe impacts from flash flooding in Mecklenburg County. Streams and creeks are running very high in South Charlotte, Matthews and nearby areas.

There are reports of multiple water rescues occurring in Charlotte.

In some areas, these bodies of water have risen to record stages, and the extent of impacts may be unprecedented in some locations.

Around an additional 4 inches is expected into Monday morning. Union County EOC reports almost 100 roads are underwater or closed across the county.

The National Weather Service said this is an incredibly serious situation, and do not attempt to travel unless absolutely necessary.

1:05 p.m. EDT Sunday:

Wilmington has been completely cut off by floodwaters with officials in the city asking for additional help from the National Guard, according to the Associated Press. Officials have also requested additional aid from the state's governor.

Meanwhile, a tornado-warned thunderstorm tracked close to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

12:20 p.m. EDT Sunday:

During a press conference on Sunday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said that “the storm has never been more dangerous than it is now” due to the rising flood waters.

Many areas in eastern North Carolina have recorded over a foot of rain from Florence with rain still falling across much of the area.

Swansboro, North Carolina, has been the wettest spot with Florence, measuring nearly 34 inches of rain. This is more rain than Los Angeles has received since the start of 2015.

florence inf

11:10 a.m. EDT Sunday:

Florence has dumped nearly two feet of rain on Wilmington, North Carolina, bringing the 2018 rainfall total in the city to over 86 inches. This washes away the old yearly rainfall record in the city of 83.65 inches, set in 1877.

As of Sunday morning, over 700,000 remained without power across North Carolina. Some of these outages may last for days as crews are unable to access some areas due to flooding.

9:51 a.m. EDT Sunday:

A 63-year-old man and 61-year-old woman have died in South Carolina after inhaling carbon monoxide from a generator they operated inside their home, according to officials in Horry County.

Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said in a statement that their bodies were located in a Loris home Saturday afternoon, but they likely died the day before as Florence's heavy rains and winds moved onshore, the AP reported.

People using generators are strongly advised not to operate them indoors, keeping them at least 30 feet away from the house. Portable generators produce as much of the odorless, colorless and tasteless carbon monoxide as hundreds of cars and can kill a person within minutes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

9:13 a.m. EDT Sunday:

Due to flooding concerns, emergency management officials in North Carolina have issued a mandatory evacuation order for those living within a mile of either side of the Cape Fear River.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, waters in McMullen Creek rose 5 feet in a two-hour time span, according to the National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina. At this stage, nearby roads will be inundated.

8:09 a.m. EDT Sunday:

"Florence has picked up speed and is now moving west at 8 mph, with its center over western South Carolina," AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said. "Florence will begin to make a turn to the north on Sunday, which will bring its moisture into the Northeast early this week."

florence ap flooding north carolina

A member of the U.S. Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical storm Florence hit Newport N.C., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

7:45 a.m. EDT Sunday:

Nearly 1,000 people are in shelters in Cumberland County, North Carolina, local police report. Officials have made several water rescues across the county.

Dozens of roads are closed due to flooding and/or downed trees.

7:08 a.m. EDT Sunday:

A tornado watch has been issued for parts of North and South Carolina until 5 p.m. Sunday.

High winds and potential tornadoes could cause additional property damage as Florence's effects continue to affect the region.

Meanwhile, officials are conducting rescues from waist-deep water in Latta, South Carolina, local TV station WPDE reported.

Rescuers are using boats to escort people safely out of their flooded homes.

5:00 a.m. EDT Sunday:

Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression with maximum-sustained winds of 35 mph. Despite losing its wind intensity, Florence will continue to pack a punch in terms of rainfall.

Many road closures are still in place across the Carolinas due to high water and blockages from trees and power lines. A large portion of 1-95 remains closed.

3:40 a.m. EDT Sunday:

Eighty-five percent of Sampson County, North Carolina, is without power, according to emergency managers.

The total number of customers without power in the state is over 664,000, according to

Winds are still strong across the region with a gust of 50 mph reported at Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The continued gusty winds combined with saturated soil will increase the threat of additional power outages throughout Sunday.

2:00 a.m. EDT Sunday:

In North Carolina, Sampson County Emergency Management reports that over 80 roads are covered by high water in the county. Several of these roads have been washed out.

Meanwhile, Wilmington, North Carolina, has been under several tornado warnings in the past few hours.

WWAY News was forced to seek shelter as a possible tornado headed toward their station.

11:55 p.m. EDT Saturday:

While flooding remains the greatest risk to lives and property in the Carolinas from Florence, isolated tornadoes will be possible across portions of southeast North Carolina through the night.

There is the potential for a brief tornado to spin up in New Hanover County, with a tornado warning in effect until 12:30 a.m. EDT Sunday.

10:00 p.m. EDT Saturday:

According to WRAL, heavy rains have breached a Duke Energy coal ash landfill at Sutton Lake in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Duke Energy said soil, water and ash, enough to fill two-thirds of an Olympic-sized pool, were displaced.

The company said it's difficult to calculate how much contaminated water reached Sutton Lake because of the rain.

9:20 p.m. EDT Saturday:

AccuWeather's Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer reported dangerous flooding on Highway 17. The road has a possibility of washing out due to the rising floodwaters.

8:55 p.m. EDT Saturday:

Swansboro, North Carolina, has received more than 30.5 inches of rain from Florence. This sets a new record in North Carolina for the most rainfall from a tropical system.

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 closed I-95 south of US 64 to traffic due to flooding on the roadway.

Click here for earlier Florence updates.

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