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Florence: Evacuations continue as North Carolina rivers rise

This Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, photo provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation shows little fish on the Interstate 40 in Pender County in eastern North Carolina after the water disappeared. Thousands of residents remained on edge Sunday, told they need to leave their homes, because the rivers are still rising more than a week after the Hurricane Florence struck in the Carolina’s. (Jeff Garrett/N. C. Department of Transportation via AP)

BLADENBORO, N. C. – Hurricane Florence is not done with the Carolina, where a number of rivers still rising, and thousands of people had to plan to leave their homes on Monday before rivers reach their crest.

About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, South Carolina, were alerted to be prepared to evacuate potential inundation areas with a projection of a “record-event” of up to 10 metres (3 feet) of flooding, which is expected to begin Tuesday in the vicinity of parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.

The county’s emergency management director Sam Hodge said in a video message posted online that the authorities closely in the river, the meters, and the enforcement of the law would go from door to door in all the threatened areas.

“Boots on the ground to the technology that we have, we try to be able to deliver the message,” Hodge said, warning people not to wait for an official evacuation order if they begin to feel unsafe.

In North Carolina, five river gauges yet to see major flood stage levels and five others were at moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The Cape Fear River was expected to crest and remain at flood stage through the beginning of the week, and parts of Interstate 40 are expected to remain underwater for a week or more.

While hundreds of smaller roads remain impassable, and there was more good news: Interstate 95 is back open to all traffic the night of Sunday to Monday for the first time since the floods, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced.

Water is already receding on a stretch of Interstate 40 in thousands of rotting fish on the sidewalk for firefighters to clean up. Video showed firefighters rays of the dead fish from the highway with a fire hose in Pender County in eastern North Carolina. The local fire brigade posted online: “We can ‘wash the fish off of the interstate” on the long list of interesting things firefighters get to experience.”

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said major flooding continues in the eastern counties along the Black, Lumber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.

“Florence continues to bring misery to North Carolina,” Cooper said in a statement Sunday evening. He added that the crew performed over 350 saves in the weekend and that travel remains treacherous in the south-eastern area of his state. But he said National Guard members would shift in addition to more door-to-door and air search for wellness checks on people in still-flooded areas.

The storm has claimed at least 43 lives since slamming into the coast Sept. 14.

In Washington, lawmakers are considering nearly $1.7 billion in new money for relief and recovery, even if they are faced with a deadline this week for the funding of the government for the Oct. 1 start of the new financial year.

The chairman of the House appropriations Committee said that the money would be available as grants for states to assist in the reconstruction of housing and public works, as well as assist businesses as they recover. GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey called it “a first round” and said lawmakers are ready to act quickly if the federal disaster relief agency also needs more money.

An economic research firm estimates that Florence has caused around $44 billion in damage and lost output, making it one of the 10 most expensive U.S. hurricanes. The worst of the disaster with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, cost $192.2 billion in current dollars, while last year’s Hurricane Harvey cost $133.5 billion. Moody’s Analytics, offered a preliminary estimate that Florence has caused $40 billion in damages and $4 billion in loss of economic output.

In other developments, at least three wild horse herds survived Florence on North Carolina in the Outer Banks, but the keepers were still trying to account for a herd to live on a hard-hit barrier island, the News & Observer reported Sunday. Employees plan to make trips to the island this week to check on the Shackleford Banks herd.

North Carolina environmental officials also said they are closely monitoring two sites where Florence flooded area are under a coal ash sites .

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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; Meg Kinnard in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Michael Biesecker in Washington.

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

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