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Columbus County, N.C.: ‘I don’t know that there’s going to be a Fair Bluff’
9:15 p.m.: Some communities in rural Columbus County are still cut off by floodwaters and supplies are being dropped from the air, N.C. Rep. Brenden Jones said Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve got people who are hungry and people who are thirsty,” the Columbus County Republican said, adding that, “Some of it could have been prevented” with better advance planning from authorities.
The affected areas in Columbus are seeing more flood water than during Hurricane Matthew two years ago, Jones said. The Tabor-Loris Tribune reported that the Lumber River wasn’t expected to crest in Fair Bluff until late Tuesday. Because many residents of Fair Bluff hadn’t finished rebuilding from Matthew, Jones worries about the town’s future. A local church just completed repairs and is now full of water again, and the state announced a few weeks ago that new town staffers would be hired to expedite the recovery.
“I don’t know that there’s going to be a Fair Bluff,” Jones said. “I don’t know if folks have the willpower and the stamina to come back from this. ... We’re losing hope in certain areas.”
In addition to Fair Bluff, smaller communities like Boardman, Crusoe Island, Nakina and Lake Waccamaw are also dealing with major flooding. “It is a desperate situation in the eastern part of our county,” he said.
The News Reporter of Whiteville reported that the U.S. Coast Guard had rescued more than 100 people in Crusoe — an isolated community south of Lake Waccamaw — by Tuesday afternoon.
With so much flooding across Eastern North Carolina, Columbus residents worried they’ll be forgotten as attention centers on damage in larger cities, Jones said.
“They’re sick of seeing Lumberton and Wilmington on TV,” he said. “It’s like we’re the red-headed stepchild of North Carolina. They feel left out.”
Columbus wasn’t even included in the initial federal disaster declaration, but that oversight was fixed after Jones spoke with U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, who represents the area.
– COLIN CAMPBELL
Spring Lake, N.C.: Evacuation as Little River crests
4:55 p.m.: For the second day in a row, residents at the Heritage Apartments at Fort Bragg in Spring Lake were being evacuated because of the cresting Little River.
The rising river has devastated Spring Lake, a small town north of Fayetteville, which has seen some of the most intense flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Around 11 apartment buildings were flooded on Tuesday, as water from the nearby Little River continued to climb overnight. Many first-floor apartments filled with water overnight and several cars were left stranded in the parking lot. Several residents said they saw a parked boat get carried away in the flood.
Because of the deteriorating conditions at the complex, the local fire department shut off power to the apartments in the hopes that more people would leave. Many people living on the second or third floors of flooded buildings had stayed.
An N.C. National Guard Battalion out of Goldsboro and an urban search and rescue team from New York City assisted in the evacuation of around a dozen people on Tuesday. The flooding, which began around three days ago at the apartments closest to the river, has left residents pondering how to proceed in the coming days.
Krystale Smith, a mother of two young daughters, said after her apartment flooded, “I was sleeping in my car because I have nowhere to go.”
“I have been calling people to help me and help me but no one has come. I have no one to help me around here because I am from Greensboro,” she said while holding her 2-month-old daughter Hailee.
Smith said she tried to take Hailee and her 4-year-old daughter Zoey to a shelter Monday night, but it wasn’t accepting any more people.
The apartment complex sent out notices to residents earlier this week that highlighted flooding risk for certain buildings. But because the complex didn’t see severe flooding from Matthew two years ago, she decided she didn’t need to find a different place to stay. “It’s a lot worse than Matthew,” she said.
She needed to find a solution quickly, she said, because she is running out of formula for her daughter.
A Spring Lake search and rescue team member later directed Smith to an open shelter in the area.
Smith wasn’t the only resident wondering what would happen after the flood waters subsided. Wonil Park lives on the second floor of one of the flooded apartment buildings. He said he hadn’t been concerned about flooding from Florence because many neighbors told him it was fine during Matthew. But now he is worried that the apartment will be condemned and he will have to move.
“I am not sure if I can stay now,” he said.
Nestor Monreal was also in the dark about the future of his first-floor apartment Tuesday. His apartment got around six inches of water, he said. “I am not sure what I am going to do,” he said. “I am (deploying) in a few months anyways.”
– ZACHERY EANES
North Carolina: Trains running again
4:40 p.m.: Amtrak service is starting to get back to normal in North Carolina following Hurricane Florence.
The Piedmont and Carolinian trains began operating again between Raleigh and Charlotte on Tuesday. The trains had not run since last Thursday, just before the storm reached North Carolina.
Carolinian service between Raleigh and New York City is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Crescent, which serves Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Charlotte, is also scheduled to resume normal operations Wednesday.
The other long-distance trains that pass through the state, including the Silver Star and Silver Meteor between New York and Miami, Fla., have been canceled through at least Thursday.
– RICHARD STRADLING
Myrtle Beach, SC: Searching for treasure
3:05 p.m.: Beachcombers took to the shores in Myrtle Beach on Tuesday to hunt for treasures washed up by strong waves in Hurricane Florence.
The sand in the area of 71st Avenue North was littered with soft corals, the occasional conch and all number of oddities from sea slugs to larger-than-life lobster claws.
Some people, cooped up for days during Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina on Friday as a Category 1 storm, sat out on the beach to enjoy the sunny day. Others picked through the debris left behind from the storm.
– CHARLES DUNCAN
Myrtle Beach, SC: Back into the water
12:15 p.m.: Myrtle Beach has lifted its ban on aquatic activity, allowing locals and Grand Strand visitors back into the ocean.
The ban was put in place as Hurricane Florence approached the Carolina coast. For about a week, people were banned from entering the ocean. The restrictions remained in place as Florence became a tropical storm and passed through the Horry County area.
– ALEX LANG
Spring Lake, NC: Worse than Matthew
10:15 a.m.: Terrence Jones hadn’t seen his wife for two days when he went down to look at the swollen banks of the Little River on Tuesday morning in Spring Lake.
It looks like he won’t be able to see her for a little while longer.
The Little River, which has been sent to record heights by the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, has cleaved this small town north of Fayetteville in two. Bragg Boulevard, which crosses the Little River, is impassable — something that wasn’t the case two years ago during Hurricane Matthew.
“It’s never been like this in all my 60 years I’ve lived,” Jones said, pointing down at the river.
During Matthew the church near the intersection of Manchester Road and Bragg Boulevard flooded, but today nearly a half-mile swatch around the intersection is submerged. The river is expected to crest at some point Tuesday.
Jones said he went to help friends on the south side of the river to clean up from the hurricane, but by the time he came back, the police were no longer letting people through. So he was stuck. Several other roads in the area are also impassable.
Jax Shinn said she hasn’t been able to see friends on the other side of the river either. Whole neighborhoods are unable to get to Fayetteville, she said.
“The flooding is worse” than Matthew, Shinn said. “No one knocked on my door to tell me to leave in 2016. This time they told me to leave.”
Shinn didn’t leave, however, and her home appears as if it will be staying dry. Members of the National Guard and the New York Task Force’s Urban Search and Rescue team began surveying the Little River around Bragg Boulevard on Tuesday morning.
A U.S. Geological Survey technician in Spring Lake said the Little River had risen higher than it was projected because of an intense thunderstorm Monday night.
“This is easily record breaking,” said James Stonecypher out of the USGS’ Raleigh office, who said the river was projected to reach 35.4 feet.
But despite those record levels there have been no fatalities in Spring Lake related to the Little River’s rising, said Troy McDuffie, chief of the Spring Lake Police Department.
“We have had no lost lives,” he said. Now “we are in a waiting mode … and waiting for the waters to recede.”
“We planned to the best of our abilities and we’ve had lots of support from other agencies and the military,” McDuffie added.
But it will likely be awhile before Spring Lake is back to normal, reckons Jones. Many businesses are still under water, and likely will be for several days, before the cleanup can begin in earnest.
“The Circle K my wife works has never been shut down,” Jones said. “It’s closed now.”
– ZACHERY EANES
Fayetteville, NC: ‘Do not become complacent’
9 a.m.: Heavy rains had finally ended in Fayetteville, with a bright, cloudless blue sky Tuesday morning.
But there is still danger in Cumberland and surrounding counties as the Cape Fear and Neuse rivers continue to rise.
“There is a strong potential that those who live within the 1-mile evacuation area of the Cape Fear River will be impacted by flooding. Additionally, high speed, fast-moving water with debris will likely cause bridge damage and it is advised that residents do not walk or drive on bridges that have been flooded,” the City of Fayetteville said in a news release Tuesday morning.
The city also asked people not to drive around or move road barriers, which mark flooding and sinkholes.
“We have had reports from the law enforcement that people are moving them, which is needlessly endangering the lives of our residents,” the city said. “Even though the heavy rains have ended, the flood hazard to life and property is real. Do not become complacent.”
Heavy rain Monday night helped swell the Little River upstream from the Cape Fear even more, adding to its already-overflowing banks.
“This could be a long-lasting and dangerous situation that will likely not subside until well into the weekend,” the city said.
There had been 81 people rescued in Cumberland County as of Tuesday morning, with the majority occurring around North Bragg Boulevard and Manchester Road. The water rescues were conducted by county, City of Fayetteville and FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Teams, the city said.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, there were 1,202 people in county shelters.
– ABBIE BENNETT
Fayetteville, NC: Rivers still rising
8:01 a.m.: The Cape Fear River in Fayetteville was expected to crest on Tuesday, but another river in Cumberland County had already reached an all-time record.
The Cape Fear in Fayetteville reached 59.37 feet as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported. That tops Hurricane Matthew’s crest of 58.94 feet on Oct. 10, 2016. The river was expected to crest at 61.5 feet about 2 a.m. Wednesday.
The Little River in Manchester upstream near Spring Lake hit a record level on Monday, according to the weather service. The river was at 34.96 feet as of 3:30 p.m. Monday. During Hurricane Matthew (the previous all-time high). it reached 32.19 feet.
On Tuesday at 7 a.m., the Little River stood at 35.95 feet and was expected to crest at 36.7 feet Tuesday, the weather service said.
North Carolina Urban Search and Rescue, the National Guard and Fayetteville Fire-Rescue were on standby in Spring Lake near the Little River to assist Spring Lake Fire-Rescue on Tuesday morning.
– ABBIE BENNETT
North Topsail Beach, NC: Don’t underestimate damage
7:15 a.m.: Mayor Daniel Tuman, in a letter released Monday night, said 77 structures on North Topsail Beach had experienced major damage and another 874 structures sustained minor damage during Florence. North Topsail Beach also had washed-out dunes, road hazards, debris and utility outages, he said.
Tuman cautioned people “to not underestimate the damage sustained.”
“It is not safe to allow our residents to return at this time,” he said. “We hope to allow reentry to our residents on Wednesday, but this is an admittedly optimistic goal. Reentry is contingent upon several factors, the chief of which is safety.”
The mayor said downed cell towers kept the town from providing information as frequently as it had planned during the storm.
– THAD OGBURN