MIAMI – Like hurricanes Harvey and Katrina before it, Florence will be remembered for unleashing a staggering amount of water over a vast area. The flooding unfolded just as forecasters expected, but many residents in the Carolinas still seemed caught off guard as they were plucked off a vehicle’s roof or pulled by boat from their flooded homes. Whether they were just stubborn, short of resources to leave or believed they had already seen worse devastation, all will be haunted by what the water has swept away.
BY THE NUMBERS
—Storm deaths: Florence is being blamed for at least 34 deaths in three states, and Typhoon Mangkhut has killed at least 74 people in the Philippines and China.
—Heavy rains: Nearly 36 inches (91 centimetres) of rain has fallen over Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and other towns have seen roughly 30 inches (76 centimetres) of rainfall since Thursday
—High water: The Cape Fear River is set to crest at 62 feet (19 metres) on Tuesday
—In the dark: About 320,000 outages, mostly in North Carolina
—Damage estimates: $17 billion to $22 billion in lost economic output and property damage, according to economists at Moody’s Analytics
—Evacuations: Tens of thousands ordered out of communities along North Carolina’s steadily rising rivers, while over 2.4 million people in southern China’s Guangdong province were warned to escape Mangkhut
—To the rescue: Over 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel with 36 helicopters and over 200 boats were working in North Carolina, and the Defence Department assigned 13,500 military personnel to help relief efforts
—Safe now: North Carolina’s governor says 2,600 people and 300 animals had been rescued
—Blocked: 1,200 North Carolina roads closed, including 357 primary roads
—City underwater: 4,300 homes in New Bern, North Carolina, inundated by flooding, or one-third of the entire number of homes in the city
—Grounded: about 200 U.S. flights cancelled Monday, down sharply from the 3,500 cancelled from Wednesday through Sunday
IMAGES FROM THE GROUND
Images captured by Associated Press journalists show flooding caused by Florence in the Carolinas and Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines .
Officials in the Carolinas are worried about what deaths are still to come amid the swelling rivers and flooding from Florence’s crawl across both states. So far, several people have died after being swept up in the stormwaters , and falling trees have killed two small children.
A Philippine police officer says residents of a mining camp in a mountain village refused to leave ahead of the powerful typhoon, believing their chapel and nearby bunkhouses were on stable ground. Now dozens of people are missing after a massive landslide buried the structures.
WILMINGTON GETS SUPPLIES
One of North Carolina’s largest cities still is mostly cut off by floodwaters, so food, water and tarps are being brought into Wilmington by big military trucks and helicopters. More than 60 per cent of homes and businesses were without power, and crews have completed about 700 rescues in the county where Wilmington is located.
SAVE HOMES OR A HIGHWAY?
A wall of concrete barriers and plastic sheets is being built along U.S. Highway 501 to save the main road into Myrtle Beach , South Carolina, from going underwater. Residents in the nearby town of Conway worry that’s going to send water from the rising Waccamaw River to flood their homes instead.
At least one North Carolina dam has breached so far under the strain of Florence’s flooding, but officials say no homes were affected. False alarms about dam failures have caused panic in a state where there is a lot of concern about whether many dams already in poor condition will hold as rivers keep rising.
South Carolina’s governor was doing a flyover of Florence’s flooding in his state when he spotted two men stranded atop a flooded pickup truck. After watching the rescue, Gov. Henry McMaster said water in that part of Chesterfield County rose at least a foot (30 centimetres) after the men initially were spotted.
EXPLAINING THE DANGER
Experts say people likely got complacent about Florence because of a scale that only categorizes hurricanes by wind strength . Water is responsible for the vast majority of deaths in hurricanes and tropical storms, but that hazard isn’t included in the system forecasters used when they described the storm as a “Category 1 hurricane” at landfall.
Relying just on a smartphone to steer out of a disaster zone is not a smart idea. After some navigation apps or in-car map directions sent people in North Carolina onto roads that got flooded or blocked by debris, Google-owned Waze said it was working with local governments and its own community of volunteer map editors to mark closures of more than 1,300 roads in North Carolina and hundreds more in South Carolina and Virginia.
MORE ABOUT MARIA
President Donald Trump said the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico has been an “incredible, tough situation” but he added, “we fought, and we are winning that one big.” Trump said almost 20,000 military personnel and federal workers were deployed to help with the aftermath of Florence in the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic, and they would “do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe.”
For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes