A mailbox is partially submerged by flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical depression, in Conway, South Carolina in the US, on September 19 2018. Picture: REUTERS/RANDALL HILL
A mailbox is partially submerged by flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical depression, in Conway, South Carolina in the US, on September 19 2018. Picture: REUTERS/RANDALL HILL

Kinston, NC — Flooding from rain-swollen rivers is expected to worsen across the Carolinas in the next couple of days in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which killed 36 people in three states, forecasters said.

Twenty flood gauges show some level of flooding in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, where some major waterways, well above their flood stages, are expected to rise throughout the weekend before they crest, the National Weather Service said.

"People in flood-prone areas or near waterways need to remain alert as rivers crest and stay above their banks in coming days," North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said.

Touring the area on Wednesday, President Donald Trump warned South Carolina that "water is coming your way".

"Now it looks nice but it’s really the calm before the storm," he said.

Florence dumped up to 91cm of rain on parts of North Carolina, and many areas remain cut off by floodwaters and inundated roads. The slow-moving storm made landfall on Friday as a category 1 hurricane.

In Lenoir County, North Carolina, where the rising Neuse River has flooded some roads, emergency medical workers have been running a mobile disaster hospital. Tripp Winslow, medical director of North Carolina Emergency Medical Services, helped set up the mobile emergency room during a downpour on Saturday night. They have received 20 to 30 patients a day so far, he said.

"Once we get isolated we expect to see more. No pun intended, it’s a fluid situation."

At least 36 deaths have been attributed to the storm: 27 in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina and one in Virginia.

Some 2,600 people had been rescued by boat or helicopter in North Carolina alone and about 10,000 people remain in shelters, said state officials.

More than 121,000 customers are without power in North Carolina and more than 2.1-million customers across the southeast US are affected, according to power utilities.

Duke Energy started to return its Brunswick nuclear power plant to service on Thursday. It shut both reactors at the 1,870MW facility before the storm hit the coast near the plant in Southport, North Carolina.

Concerns are growing about the environmental and health dangers lurking in the water. The flooding has caused 21 "lagoons" which store manure from pig farms, to overflow, creating a risk that standing water will be contaminated, said the state’s environmental quality department.

Reuters

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