Hurricane Florence death toll climbs as flooding spreads | News | DW | 17.09.2018
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Hurricane Florence death toll climbs as flooding spreads

The death toll from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, has risen to 31. Authorities are warning that flooding could persist for several weeks in some areas with the "worst yet to come."

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has urged residents who were evacuated from the worst-hit areas ahead of Hurricane Florence to stay away amid warnings that the floods in the state were worsening.

"This is an epic storm that is still continuing," Cooper told a news conference.

"There's too much going on…Please don't make yourself someone who needs to be rescued," he said even as rains stopped in several places after Florence moved on and the weary residents got a brief glimpse of sunshine on Monday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said there was an "elevated risk for landslides" in North Carolina.

"The worst is yet to come," as river levels rise to historic levels, said Zach Taylor, an NWS meteorologist. "The soil is soaked and can't absorb any more rain so that water has to go somewhere, unfortunately."

The death toll from Florence, which came ashore in North Carolina on Friday, rose to 31 on Monday.

The dead included a 1-year-old boy who was swept away after his mother drove into floodwaters and lost her grip on him as they tried to escape their car.

"Don't drive around barricades. We're seeing this happen now and the result is not good," Cooper said.

Pollution scare

Emergency workers delivered truckloads of food and water to the coastal city of Wilmington, which remains largely cut off from the rest of North Carolina with just one major accessible route.

"We're dealing with some very, very tough situations with respect to the impassable roads coming into the city of Wilmington," Mayor Bill Saffo told residents on Twitter. "As the water recedes things will get better."

North Carolina environmental regulators said several open-air manure pits at hog farms had been breached and were spilling pollution. State officials also were monitoring the ongoing threat from the breach of a coal ash landfill near Wilmington.

Florence, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression from a hurricane, was headed through Virginia toward New England.

About 500,000 homes and businesses were in the dark on Monday in North and South Carolina and surrounding states.

ap/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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