Florence pummels the Carolinas

By Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Paul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 8:11 a.m. ET, September 17, 2018
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7:08 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Death toll rises to 11

Florence has killed at least 11 people in both North Carolina and South Carolina, officials from both states have reported. Duplin County, North Carolina, has had 3 fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways, according to the Sheriff’s Office, bringing the state's storm-related deaths to ten people.

North Carolina's Chief Medical Examiner’s office has details on the 7 deaths in that state:

  • A 41-year-old female and her seven-month-old son died in Wilmington, NC, when a tree fell on their home
  • A 68-year-old male in Lenoir County, NC, who died when he was electrocuted while plugging in a generator
  • A 77-year-old male in Lenoir County, NC, who fell and died due to a cardiac event while outside checking on dogs during the storm
  • An 81-year-old man in Wayne County, NC, who fell and struck his head while packing to evacuate
  • A husband and wife died in a house fire in Cumberland County, NC  

In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster released the name of the woman who died.

  • Amber Dawn Lee, 61, from Union County, SC, died when her car struck a tree that fell down during the aftermath of Florence, according to a South Carolina Office of Emergency Management official
10:44 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Man arrested for allegedly looting in North Carolina

A man was arrested for allegedly looting an Exxon gas station and convenience store in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

From the New Hanover Sheriff's twitter account:

“If you break into someone’s home or business, we will arrest you!”

 

6:36 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

NOAA Satellites show Florence's slow march inland

NOAA says in a tweet:

"The center of #Florence is still slowly making its way across eastern South Carolina, as seen by #GOESEast. Heavy rains and catastrophic flooding persist across parts of the Carolinas."
6:31 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Hazardous situation near Lumber River in North Carolina

From CNN’s Polo Sandoval

The situation is quickly growing more dangerous for people in the low-lying areas near the Lumber River in Lumberton, North Carolina.

The message below was sent out by the Robeson County PIO.

"ALL SHELTERS ARE OPEN. St Pauls High School, Purnell Swett High School, Lumberton High School, Fairmont Middle. Please evacuate NOW if you are living in a low-lying area or your home is flooding. Please share this important!!!!!"
6:26 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

1 additional storm-related fatality in North Carolina

Duplin County, North Carolina, has had three fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways, according to the sheriff’s office.

This brings storm-related fatalities to nine. Eight people have died in North Carolina while one person died in South Carolina.

6:28 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Trump and Pence receive update on storm at the White House

White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence receive an emergency preparedness update call on the impact of Hurricane Florence in the Treaty Room of the White House.

5:04 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

The Lumber River is rising faster than officials expected

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

The water in the Lumber River is rising faster than officials in Lumberton, North Carolina, expected, Corey Walters, City of Lumberton deputy director of public works, tells CNN’s Cassie Spodak.

It’s estimated the water is now close to 15 feet -- flood stage is 13 feet. 

The city has spent the last 24 hours frantically trying to build up a barrier in a gap in the levee system here, where a train track runs under I-95, that helped lead to the devastating flooding after Hurricane Matthew, he said.

Lumberton public information officer Emily Jones told CNN the water is rising faster than expected and has already reached 14 feet. It is expected to reach 24 feet by lunch time tomorrow.

There is no mandatory evacuation but residents in the low-lying areas that were flooding during Hurricane Matthew should leave now.

9:10 a.m. ET, September 16, 2018

Out-of-state travelers should avoid driving through NC, DOT says

From CNN's Keith Allen and Greg Wallace

People wait in line to fill up their gas cans at a gas station that was damaged when Hurricane Florence hit the area, on September 15, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
People wait in line to fill up their gas cans at a gas station that was damaged when Hurricane Florence hit the area, on September 15, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon is asking out-of-state travelers to avoid driving through North Carolina, as much of the state is dealing with rising flood waters from Florence.

“We could see this for several days,” Trogdon said at a Saturday press conference. “This is what we need to do today to make sure motorists are safe in North Carolina.”

“Stay off the roads in most parts of North Carolina,” NC Governor Roy Cooper echoed. “All roads in the state are at risk of floods.”

All lanes of Interstate 95 are closed in both directions between Exit 81 near Raleigh-Durham and Exit 65 near Godwin, due to flooding, according to NC DOT.

While a portion of Interstate 95 near Dunn, North Carolina, is expected to re-open Sunday, NC DOT anticipates additional closures in the Fayetteville area, near the Cape Fear River. Those closures could last a week.  

Drivers from neighboring Georgia and Virginia are being asked to use alternative routes, NC DOT says. Visit NCDOT.gov for a map and information on latest road closures.

Note: This post has been updated.

3:59 p.m. ET, September 15, 2018

Water Rescues completed in the city of New Bern

The City of New Bern has completed all of its water rescues, the city posted on its official Twitter account.

According to CNN meteorologists, as of Friday evening, New Bern had already seen more than 10 feet of storm surge and likely more than 10 inches of rain, and hundreds of people had to be rescued.

As of Saturday morning, 100 remained waiting for help.

New Bern, home to approximately 30,000 people, sits about 37 miles northeast of Jacksonville, North Carolina, on the banks of the Neuse River. Thursday, a CNN team in the area watched as the water spilled over the edge of the river and flooded Union Point Park in a matter of hours.