Killer storm stalks US
Catastrophic floods raised the threat of landslides and dam failures across the southeastern United States yesterday, prolonging the agony caused by a killer hurricane that has left more than a dozen people dead and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Downgraded to a tropical depression, Florence crept over South and North Carolina, dumping heavy rains on already flood-swollen river basins that authorities warned could bring more death and destruction.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to weaken further yesterday "before re-intensifying as it transitions to an extratropical cyclone Tuesday and Wednesday."
The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center warned of "heavy and excessive rainfall over the next couple of days."
There is an "elevated risk for landslides" in western North Carolina and southwest Virginia, as well as a danger of "catastrophic and life-threatening flash flooding" in parts of the Carolinas, it said.
"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. "It's worrying to watch the water slowly rising."
At least 15 people have died since Florence made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane near Wrightsville Beach -- 10 in North Carolina and five in South Carolina.
"Unfortunately we've still got several days to go," Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Fox News.
Long said more havoc lies ahead as the storm broadens its geographic scope over regions deeply saturated with water.
Of particular concern were the risks to dams, already stressed by heavy rainfall from a tropical storm earlier in the month, he said, urging citizens to heed official warnings about what is now a "flood event."
The tiny town of Pollocksville, population 300, found itself cut in two on Sunday afternoon after the River Trent burst its banks.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper earlier told reporters "the strongest storm bands are dumping two to three inches of rain per hour" over regions that had already received up to two feet of rain.