Interstates closed, flood concerns rise

The expected path of now Tropical Storm Florence over the next several days. (Photo: NOAA)

It may no longer be a hurricane, but Florence is still expected to exact a toll on the Carolinas and then further inland over the next several days as the slow-moving storm drops rain measured in feet rather than inches across a wide swath of area.

Having already killed 7, the storm’s aftermath could be as deadly as its approach, officials say, with historic flooding lasting for potentially weeks after 45 inches of rain is dumped in some areas.

Florence is nearly stationary at the moment, officials from NOAA said at a morning briefing, about 35 miles west of Mrytle Beach, SC, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Areas near Newport, NC have received 24 inches of rain so far with another 15 expected. Those rain bands will continue throughout the day and slowly drop to the south. As the storm starts to move out, it will bring heavy rain to the Charlotte area late tonight and tomorrow.

Flooding is a concern, particularly in the areas of the Neuse, Cape Fear Basin, PD River, the little PD River Basin, the Lumbar River and the Waccamaw River. NOAA said that river flooding is a concern as rivers will remain in flood stage for several days. Landslides will be concern as well due to the heavy rain leading to mountainous rivers and streams overflowing.

The storm is expected to continue to weaken over the next several days with its remnants working their way through eastern Tennessee and up into Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and up into the Northeast. While rainfall in those areas will be heavy, it is not expected to be anything like what happened in North and South Carolina.

FEMA has announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available in North Carolina, allowing affected individuals and businesses to apply for federal aid. This includes loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes are available with loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. 

The declaration covers Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, and Pender counties.

In North Carolina, the state DOT reports that I-95 South near Fayetteville is closed due to flooding as is I-40 in both directions just north of Wilmington at Exit 364 and Exit 369. The state hopes to have both roads open by 8:30 a.m. on Monday. NCDOT says the majority of the impacted roads are along the coast and on the South Carolina border.

Numerous roads are reported with objects and water over the roadways blocking traffic, especially in the Fayetteville area and along the coastal roads.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that the Port of Virginia has reopened with some restrictions and it will work to get the other ports open as soon as possible.


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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.