‘Be Patient, Be Alert,’ Trump Urges Ahead of Visit to Flood-Stricken North Carolina

September 19, 2018 Updated: September 19, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to visit North Carolina on Wednesday, Sept. 19, to witness first-hand the destruction left behind by Hurricane Florence, and to review the ongoing relief effort.

Trump is expected to arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina at about 10:30 a.m. local time and return to Washington D.C. at 6:15 p.m., according to the White House.

Trump tweeted a video on Tuesday, thanking relief workers and volunteers for their hard work.

“I just want to thank all the incredible men and women who have done such a great job in helping with Florence. This is a tough hurricane,” Trump said.

“Florence has been a nasty one,” Trump continued. “The waters are still rising, listen to your state and your local authorities, be patient, be alert, and God bless you.”

Relief crews help a person off a truck
U.S. Air Force Security Forces airmen and Florence County Sheriff’s Department assist local citizens off a tactical truck during evacuation efforts in Florence, South Carolina on Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard/Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago/Handout via Reuters)

North Carolina continues to bear the brunt of Florence’s deadly deluge, as rivers continue to rise and thousands of homes and roadways remain submerged.

More than 15,000 people remain in shelters and more than 200,000 customers are without power across North Carolina, six days after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, according to state officials.

Rivers Continue to Rise

“We continue to feel the effects of this massive storm,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on Tuesday. “Even though there is no substantial rain in the forecast and the sun may be shining across many parts of our state, rivers continue to rise and we will see more flooding.”

The Cape Fear River was expected to crest at 61.5 feet (19 meters), quadrupling its normal height, on Wednesday in Fayetteville, a city of 200,000 in the southern part of the state near the Fort Bragg army base, according to the National Weather Service. That has disrupted efforts to restore power, clear roads, and allow evacuated residents to go home.

Aerial view of flooding in North Carolina
Aerial view of farms flooded after the passing of Hurricane Florence in eastern North Carolina on Sept. 17, 2018. (Reuters/Rodrigo Gutierrez)

“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,” the city said in a statement.

The city manager told CNN that 12,000 people are “in harm’s way.”

Florence has already killed at least 35 people, including 26 in North Carolina and eight in South Carolina where local media reported that two mental health patients drowned on Tuesday when the sheriff’s van the women were in crashed.

Storm Spawns Multiple Tornadoes

One person was killed in Virginia when the storm spawned about 16 tornadoes there on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Thousands of rescues have taken place in the Carolinas. Fire and rescue crews were waiting to go into many areas to assist with structural damage after Florence dumped up to 36 inches (91 cm) of rain in parts of North Carolina since last Thursday.

At least 16 rivers remained at a major flood stage with three others set to crest in the coming days in North Carolina, the state said.

More than 1,100 roads were still closed across North Carolina, Cooper said, including several portions of interstates 40 and 95. In South Carolina, 40 major roads were closed.

In the town of Fair Bluff, North Carolina, which has struggled to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, only about 50 residents remained on Tuesday, Fair Bluff Police Chief Chris Chafin told Reuters.

The town has largely been cut off by flooding from the still-rising Lumber River, which was expected to crest on Wednesday.

Much of Columbus County, where Fair Bluff is located, was under water, according to Steve Abbott of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, with most roads closed and “driving not advised.”

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