Governor Roy Cooper on Friday praised the efforts of first responders who rescued an entire town from rising waters overnight and warned residents of continued dangers from the storm.
Thursday night, more than 100 people in the Bladen County town of Kelly had to be evacuated by air and boat after the Cape Fear River overcame a levee and began to flood the town.
“The NC National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard flying with night vision goggles heroically saved lives,” said Gov. Cooper. “We are eternally grateful to our first responders who continue to show unflinching courage in the face of danger.”
Effects from Hurricane Florence itself continue. Some rivers are still rising, and some will experience a second crest nearly as high as the first. Parts of I-95 and I-40 remain submerged and unsafe, with more than 600 road closures statewide. Roads will continue to open and close as flood waters change.
“Some locations won’t see rivers crest until late in the weekend and flooding will continue well into next week,” Gov. Cooper added. “This means lives are still at risk and people need to stay alert for local evacuation orders.”
Road Hazards Remain
Many roads have been cleared of debris and reopened, but travel remains treacherous across large sections of eastern and coastal North Carolina. The governor urged people not to drive in flooded areas.
“I cannot stress this enough – don’t drive around barricades,” urged Gov. Cooper. “Your car is not enough to protect you from dangerous flood waters, even if it only seems like it’s a few inches deep.”
Just a few inches of flowing water can be enough to move a car off the road. For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, residents can go to DriveNC.gov or call 511.
Shelters are still housing about 3,700 North Carolinians who have sought refuge from the storm. While many are anxious to return to their homes and survey the damage, it still isn’t safe to travel in many areas west of U.S. 1 and south of U.S 70 and officials are asking residents to be patient in the interest of safety.
“I know that’s a big request for people wondering what’s left of their homes, but with power still out and new roads flooding every hour, we need to keep the few routes we have clear for emergency vehicles and supplies, DOT and utility workers,” Gov. Cooper said.
The storm has officially claimed the lives of 32 people in North Carolina, rising today after a 46-year-old man in Brunswick County died when a tree he was cutting fell on him.
During the past week, local first responders and emergency teams have reported nearly 5,000 lives saved through rescues in storm-ravaged areas. That’s twice as many people as were saved after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
About 56,000 homes and businesses were without power, as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
All 911 centers are operational, and the number of non-functioning cell towers is down to the single digits.
More than 61,000 survivors have already requested federal disaster assistance.
Storm Victims Urged to Apply with FEMA
Anyone with a home damaged by Florence in any county is encouraged to begin the FEMA registration process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA to register via telephone or by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov to register online.
Governor Cooper has also requested that the federal government cover 100% of the costs associated with disaster response for the first 30 days of this effort, instead of the typical 75%.
SBA Opens Second Business Recovery Center
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the opening of a Business Recovery Center (BRC) in Craven County, North Carolina on Sept. 22 at 8 a.m. and an extension of the Saturday operational hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the existing Business Recovery Center (BRC) in Greenville, to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Florence.
SBA representatives at the Centers can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application.
Governor Visits Farmers
Today, Governor Cooper visited farms to see the damage this storm brought to their crops, buildings and homes. Agriculture is the top driver of North Carolina’s economy, and farmers have been hit particularly hard by the storm.
As a result of Florence, 25 North Carolina counties are currently authorized for Farm Service Agency emergency loans for eligible family farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wake, Wayne and Wilson. Applications may be received for physical and production losses through May 17, 2019. More information is available at fsa.usda.gov.
The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is available for donations to support North Carolina’s response to Hurricane Florence. To donate, visit governor.nc.gov or text FLORENCE to 20222.
The statewide information line can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing and other storm-related details. Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, or text Florence to 898211. The information line is staffed around the clock to connect North Carolinians to storm resources. Other resources can be obtained by visiting ncdps.gov/Florence or following NC Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter.