Body Found in North Carolina Trailer Surrounded by Florence Floodwaters

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
September 19, 2018Updated: September 19, 2018

A body was found in a trailer in North Carolina, surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Florence.

Lt. Sean Swain, a spokesman for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, told the Fayetteville Observer that deputies could see the man’s body through a trailer window but couldn’t retrieve the body because of the swift water surrounding the trailer.

The location of the trailer was just outside Fayetteville, off Tabor Church Road near the Cape Fear River.

A member of a search and rescue team performing well-being checks in the evacuated area along the river spotted the body late Tuesday, Sept. 18 and alerted the sheriff’s office.

Members from the office, EMS, and a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Team from New York were among those who were investigating the death.

Cape Fear River floods from Florence
In this combination of photos, Cape Fear River flows under the Person Street bridge on Sept. 15, 2018, left, and on Sept. 19, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Ignored Evacuation Order

Swain said on Sept. 19 that deputies had gone to the man’s house before the flooding to tell him about the mandatory evacuation but that the man refused to leave, reported WRAL.

The death toll from Florence increased to at least 37 on Sept. 19. At least 17 of the deaths happened in North Carolina.

Those include a mother and baby killed by a falling tree and a one-year-old swept away by floodwaters.

Cape Fear Hits Historic Heights

An estimated 2,800 households in the mandatory evacuation zone near the Cape Fear River had been ordered to evacuate, and those who ignored the order were told they could be on their own.

As forecast, the river swelled to its highest level in 73 years after five days of rain from Florence, reported the Observer. The river was expected to crest before dawn on Sept. 19, at 61.6 feet—3.5 feet higher than the level from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins told the paper that despite the mandatory evacuation, officers cannot force people to leave their homes. “That’s a risk that they are taking with their own lives,” said Hawkins.

Cape Fear river crests
The Cape Fear River is seen from above after it crested at 61.4 feet from the rainfall brought on by Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Sept. 19, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Bob Baker, one of those who stayed put, and who lives in Kinwood by Methodist University, said that he and his neighbors studied the topography and concluded many of their homes would be safe. They have largely been correct.

Baker said he and others cleaned out stormwater drains and had sandbags on hand if needed. He criticized city officials, believing they didn’t take into account the topography.