Florence downgraded, flooding fears grow as rivers rise

People wait for the Piggly Wiggly grocery store to open after Hurricane Florence hit Richlands N.C.,Sunday Sept. 16 2018.					Tom Copeland  AP

People wait for the Piggly Wiggly grocery store to open after Hurricane Florence hit Richlands N.C.,Sunday Sept. 16 2018. Tom Copeland AP

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers. Up to 20,000 people are in emergency shelters in North Carolina alone.

More than 900 water rescues have been reported in North Carolina alone, the governor's office said - but many more people need help.

As this storm continues to churn through North Carolina, it has dumped almost two feet or more of rain in many places.

The remnants of Hurricane Florence are moving away from the southeast, but the aftermath of more than 30 inches of rain will linger for days in the region's rivers.

-Three people died in Duplin County, North Carolina, because of flash flooding and swift water on roadways.

Her father, 84-year-old Rembert Walters, says that if his relatives dispersed to different havens, he'd spend all his time worrying about them.

At least 17 deaths were reported in North and SC.

More than 20,000 people were in 157 shelters in North Carolina, with almost 6,000 in SC shelters, officials said.

North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said he doesn't know how long that access could last. Southbound I-95 lanes also were closed between Exits 81 and 65 in North Carolina.

The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression as it trudged inland early yesterday morning, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters kept rising.

"Just ran right into it, didn't see what was ahead of me at all", said Doug Nickerson of Wilmington, N.C., after driving his vehicle into flood waters.

Five were killed when their vehicles lost control on flooded roads, a mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their Wilmington home and a couple perished from carbon-monoxide poisoning after using a generator inside their coastal SC home as the storm lashed the region. Tens of thousands were ordered evacuated from communities along the state's steadily rising rivers - with the Cape Fear, Little River, Lumber, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers all projected to burst their banks.

"A lot of people have evacuated already", said Denise Harper, a resident of Grifton, a small North Carolina town threatened by rising water levels in a nearby creek and the River Neuse. As the storm "begins to finally recede, they will kick into an even higher gear".

"Many of our people are going to be going through assessments here over the weeks and months to be able to quantify the magnitude, but already we have 17 people who have died", Cooper said during a briefing Monday afternoon.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

The death toll rose to at least 16.

As rivers rose, state regulators and environmental groups monitored the threat from enormous hog and poultry farms in low-lying, flood-prone areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instructing parents to keep children out of flood waters, which it says "can hide nails and broken glass, carry infectious diseases, and may contain sewage".

The industrial-scale farms contain vast pits of animal waste that can pose a significant pollution threat if they are breached or inundated by floodwaters.

JAMES CITY, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home September 14, 2018 in James City, United States.

"As you can tell, they're not listening to me", he said.

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