Major flooding lingering more than a week after Florence

A road is flooded from Hurricane Florence in the Avondale community in Hampstead, N.C., Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (Matt Born /The Star-News via AP)

BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) — Major flooding remained a threat in parts of the Carolinas on Sunday, more than a week after Hurricane Florence made landfall.

In South Carolina, more evacuations were ordered as rivers continue to rise in the aftermath of a storm that claimed at least 43 lives since slamming into the coast.

About 6,000 to 8,000 people were being told they should prepare to evacuate in coastal Georgetown County. A “record event” of up to 10 feet (3 meters) of flooding is expected because of heavy rains dumped earlier by Hurricane Florence, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said. She said the flooding is expected to start Tuesday near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers and people in the potential flood zones should plan to leave their homes Monday.

Flooding passes under a Jayhawk helicopter during a U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue operation, over North Carolina, Sept. 18, 2018.
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Georgetown County is opening two shelters for those who evacuate.

National Weather Service data showed five of North Carolina’s river gauges at major flood stage and five others at moderate flood stage, with the Cape Fear River expected to crest and remain at flood stage through the early part of the week. Parts of Interstates 95 and 40 are expected to remain underwater for another week or more.

“Hurricane Florence has deeply wounded our state, wounds that will not fade soon as the flood waters finally recede,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said that eastern counties continue to see major flooding, including areas along the Black, Lumber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.

He said residents who register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency can begin moving into hotels Monday. The program initially will be open to residents in nine counties, then will be expanded. A FEMA coordinator said about 69,000 people from North Carolina already have registered for assistance.

Flooded homes, roads and fields pass under a Jayhawk helicopter during a U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue operation, over North Carolina, Sept. 18, 2018.

North Carolina environmental officials also said they’re closely monitoring two sites where Florence’s floodwaters have inundated coal ash sites .

On the Outer Banks, at least three wild horse herds survived Florence, but caretakers were still trying to account for one herd living on a hard-hit barrier island, the News & Observer reported Sunday. Staff members are planning to make trips to the island this week to check on the Shackleford Banks herd.

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An economic research firm estimated that Hurricane Florence has caused around $44 billion in damage and lost output, which would make it one of the top 10 costliest U.S. hurricanes. The top disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, cost $192.2 billion in today’s dollars, while last year’s Hurricane Harvey cost $133.5 billion

Moody’s Analytics estimates Florence has caused $40 billion in damage and $4 billion in lost economic output, though the company stressed that the estimate is preliminary and could go higher or lower.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has estimated damage from the flood in his state at $1.2 billion. He asked congressional leaders to hurry federal aid.

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Waggoner and Robertson reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit; Chevel Johnson in New Orleans; Meg Kinnard in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Michael Biesecker in Washington and Tammy Webber in Chicago.

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For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

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