RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to stay off the roads again Wednesday, citing the more than 900 people who were rescued from the rising floodwaters as a result of tropical depression Florence sitting over the area.
“Floodwaters are still raging across parts of our state and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters,” he said. “This storm has never been more dangerous than it is right now.”
Cooper said the storm dropped around 2 feet of rain or more in most places and the strongest storm bands continue to dump around 2 to 3 inches of rain each hour. He warned that could cause flooding in places that have never flooded before, and landslides in the mountains.
The official death count for North Carolina, according to Cooper, is now 10, with more under investigation. There have been several reports of other deaths across the state from local officials and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported five people have died there as a result of the storm. An unofficial count by WFMY shows at least 16 people have been reported dead due to Florence related causes as of Sunday afternoon.
“We mourn their loss and our hearts go out the victims’ families,” he said. “We are working now and doing everything we can to prevent more deaths.”
State officials reported there are more than 15,000 people in about 150 shelters across North Carolina. Cooper said there were around 700,000 people without power as of Sunday afternoon.
The governor said he was able to fly over the area with government officials to see the storm damage and was alarmed by what he saw in eastern North Carolina.
“There is a lot of farmland underwater all over the southeastern part of the state. I’m concerned about the impact on crops and farms,” he said. He said the state will be focusing on including affordable housing as the state begins to rebuild on the coast.
“Eventually the skies will clear, the floodwaters will recede, and when they do, we’re ready to take on the challenge of rebuilding our communities,” Cooper said. “My promise to the people of NC – and to the towns, cities, farms and business damaged by Florence is this - North Carolina is with you. And we’re in it for the long haul.”