North Carolina city cut off by storm floodwaters

NEW BERN, N.C. >> The Latest on Tropical Depression Florence (all times eastern):

12:50 p.m.

The city of Wilmington, North Carolina, has been completely cut off by floodwaters and officials are asking for additional help from state law enforcement and the National Guard.

Woody White is chairman of the board of commissioners of New Hanover County. He said at a news conference Sunday that additional rainfall Saturday night made roads into the city impassable.

White says officials are planning for food and water to be flown to the county, although new distribution centers will have to be found because of all the rain in the northern part of the county.

Earlier Sunday, officials from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority had said they were almost out of fuel for the water plant and might have to shut down. The utility later issued a release saying it had found additional fuel.

White says officials have asked Gov. Roy Cooper for additional aid.

12:50 p.m.

North Carolina officials say large-scale search-and-rescue operations are underway in coastal areas as floodwaters from Florence spread across the state and road conditions worsen.

Michael Sprayberry is director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He said at a news conference that more than 1,000 responders were working with more than 200 boats to rescue people Sunday afternoon.

Officials are also delivering food, water and rescue vehicles to hard-hit areas.

The state’s transportation secretary says 171 primary roads are closed, 100 more than a day earlier. Officials warned that problems would spread westward Sunday along with the remnants of the storm.

Gov. Roy Cooper says the storm has “never been more dangerous” than it is now for areas from Fayetteville and Lumberton, across the Sandhills and central part of the state into the mountains.

Around 15,000 North Carolinians are in shelters and about 700,000 were without power.

NOON

North Carolina state regulators and environmental groups are monitoring the threat from hog and poultry farms in low-lying, flood-prone areas.

These industrial-scale farms typically feature vast pits of animal feces and urine that can pose a significant pollution threat if they are breached or inundated by floodwaters.

In past hurricanes, flooding at dozens of farms also left hundreds of thousands of dead hogs, chickens and other decomposing livestock bobbing in the floodwaters.

11:45 a.m.

North Carolina’s transportation secretary says one of his top priorities is to find a way to get into Wilmington after damage from Florence closed major roads into the city.

Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told The Associated Press on Sunday that U.S. 74 into Wilmington is impassable and Interstate 40 into the city also is closed.

Trodgon spoke as he flew with Gov. Roy Cooper over some of the damaged areas. During the flight on a U.S. Coast Guard cargo plane, they flew from Raleigh and to some of the hardest-hit areas, including Fayetteville, Lumberton, Jacksonville and New Bern. Weather conditions prevented them from getting as far east as Wilmington.

11:45 a.m.

The manager of a southeastern North Carolina county says about 90 people have been rescued from high waters due to flooding.

Columbus County Manager Mike Stephens said late Sunday morning that rivers and streams have been rising due to large amounts of rain from Florence and power is out in a large swath of the county. Stephens says the county’s secondary roads are “almost impassable” and water is covering part of one main highway, U.S. 74.

Stephens says some of the people were rescued from vehicles that ran into deep water.

He says there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities in Columbus County from the storm.

11:20 a.m.

Former hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence has claimed a 14th victim: a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in South Carolina.

Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson says 23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince was a passenger in the truck, which lost control on a flooded two-lane road early Sunday.

Johnson says the driver and another passenger escaped after the truck ended upside down in the flooded ditch north of Georgetown.

Prince is the fourth person killed by the storm in South Carolina.

Authorities say a Horry County couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning running a generator inside and a Union County woman died when her vehicle hit a tree branch.

10:30 a.m.

One of the authorities leading the response to Florence says the storm is causing “historic and unprecedented flooding.”

Michael Sprayberry is director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that Florence’s combination of heavy rainfall, extreme storm surge and high winds makes the storm “one for the record books.”

Both Sprayberry and Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz say they are getting all the support they need from the federal government.

Schultz has a lead role in responding to Florence. He notes that the storm is moving very slowly and that some of the affected areas haven’t seen the worst of it.

He also notes that the affected areas are looking at a “long-term recovery.”

9:45 a.m.

The mayor of a Fayetteville, North Carolina, suburb says about 100 people in her community have been urged to evacuate to higher ground over flooding concerns.

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said Sunday morning that the warning went out to neighborhoods around Hope Mills Lake because the water there is expected to rise significantly. She says fire and police officials were going door to door in the affected neighborhoods Sunday morning to make sure people are aware.

Warner says a complete dam failure is not expected. So far, she says the lake hasn’t overflowed its banks.

9:45 a.m.

The mayor of New Bern, North Carolina, says his city has imposed a curfew. He says there are 30 roads still unpassable, 4,200 homes and more than 300 commercial buildings damaged, 6,000 customers without power and 1,200 residents in shelters because of hurricane-turned Tropical Depression Florence.

Mayor Dana Outlaw told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that many of the creeks in the area are “increasing by the hour” and there’s concern about trees falling due to the saturated ground conditions.

Outlaw says officials are “urging residents to stay inside and to not travel,” especially so as to not interrupt utility workers trying to restore power.

9:45 a.m.

The head of the U.S. government’s disaster relief agency says Florence is unfortunately delivering the damage that was predicted as it sweeps across the Carolinas.

Brock Long told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to meet the demands of North Carolina officials “as they’re coming up to us.”

Long noted that “recovery is always a very frustrating process for people when they’ve lost their livelihoods, but we’re going to be OK.”

Long says the agency’s immediate focus is on search-and-rescue efforts and meeting the needs of people who are in shelters.

9 a.m.

Authorities say a couple have died in South Carolina after using a generator inside their home during Florence.

Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said 63-year-old Mark Carter King and 61-year-old Debra Collins Rion were killed by breathing in carbon monoxide.

Willard said in a statement their bodies were found in a Loris home Saturday afternoon, but they likely died the day before as the heavy rains and winds from former hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Florence were moving onshore.

5:10 a.m.

Florence has weakened into a tropical depression but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center says in its 5 a.m. update Sunday that excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be “catastrophic.” An elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.

Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.

At 5 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).

2:06 a.m.

Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center says excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be “catastrophic.” In its 2 a.m. update Sunday, the center also says an elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.

Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.

At 2 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 25 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving west at 6 mph (9 kph).

1:05 a.m.

North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.

After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Storm surges, flash floods and winds have spread destruction widely and the Marines, the Coast Guard and volunteers have used boats, helicopters, and heavy-duty vehicles to conduct hundreds of rescues as of Saturday.

The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm has now climbed to 11.

Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecaster warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring some of the most destructive flooding in North Carolina history.

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