Wilmington Island: Food, water, hand-outs, set in the isolated city

An unknown family member carries Ruth Brady to the safety at the Wilmington airport in Wilmington, N. C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Brady was one of several members of the family rescued by the coast guard helicopter crew north of Wilmington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WILMINGTON, N. C. – one of North Carolina’s largest cities still largely cut off by the water of Hurricane Florence, officials prepared to begin with the distribution of food, water and sail to Wilmington residents are more people were rescued from submerged in the interior in the near.

Employees will begin with the distribution of relief supplies to stranded residents in the city of 120,000 people as of Tuesday morning, county officials say.

A road was opened in Wilmington at least in the short, the officials said, and items are brought into the city by the big military trucks and helicopters, which also are used to pluck hundreds of hurried people off the top of houses and other structures.

“Thank you,” a shirtless Willie Schubert mouth to the members of a coast guard helicopter crew that picked him and his dog Lucky from the top of a house surrounded by water in Pollocksville on Monday. It was not clear how long he had been stranded.

The death toll from Florence rose to at least 32 in the three countries, with 25 fatalities in North Carolina, as remnants of the once powerful Category 4 hurricane, now reduced to a rainy, windy mass of low pressure — accelerated in the direction of the densely populated Northeast.

Among the victims are a 1-year-old boy who was swept away after his mother drove into the water and lost her grip on him while trying to get back on dry land in North Carolina. Authorities in Virginia said a person was dead after an apparent tornado.

The rain stopped and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. He urged the residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of the closed roads, and catastrophic floods that are immersed in a whole community.

“There is too much to do,” he told a press conference.

The crews have conducted over 700 rescues in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located. More than 60 percent of homes and businesses without power, authorities said. Roads are cleared, and the landfill is open to accept storm refuse.

Mayor Bill Saffo said that he was working with the governor to get more fuel in Wilmington.

“At this moment, things moved, and in the city,” he said.

Compounding problems, downed power lines and broken trees crosses many roads in Wilmington, three days after Florence made landfall. The smell of broken pine trees floated through damaged neighborhoods.

In the White House, President Donald Trump said nearly 20,000 military personnel and federal employees were deployed to help with the aftermath.

“We will do what is necessary to keep the American people safe,” Trump said.

Provisional statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proved to be Florence had the fourth highest rainfall total from the hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since the 1950s, with 35.94 inches (91.2 cm) in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. Harvey’s total of 60.58 inch (153.87 inches) from last year in Texas, No. 1.

Desperately looking for gas to run a generator at home, Nick Monroe waited in a half-mile-long (more than .8 km) line at a Speedway station, although the pumps were wrapped in plastic. His power went out Thursday for Florence to hit the coast, but he couldn’t recall exactly when.

“It is all a kind of blur,” Monroe said.

At another gas station, a long line of vehicles followed a truck pulled in with 8,800 gallons (33,000 litres of fuel.

Downgraded from a tropical depression, the deadly storm still had abundant rain and wind the top around the 25 km / h (40 km / h). Forecasters said it is expected to continue to the Northeast, in as much as 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain before the system moves offshore.

Emergency officials had trouble with the size of the spread of the disaster.

In Lumberton, where the Wood River flooded homes, Chief John Paul Ivey could not even count how many calls authorities had received about people who need to be rescued.

“We already have so hard and fast that we don’t have a number yet,” he said.


Waggoner reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press photographer Steve Helber in Pollocksville, North Carolina, and AP writers Jonathan Drew in Lumberton (North Carolina); Gary Robertson in Raleigh, north carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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