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Florence Death Toll Up To 18, Flooding Grows In Carolinas

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Florence has weakened to a tropical depression, but residents in the Carolinas are not out of the woods yet.

The storm is still dumping an excessive amount of rain in the area, raising the risk of flash floods and river flooding, CBS2's Clark Fouraker reported Sunday.

At least 18 people have died in the storm, officials said.

"This storm has never been more dangerous than it is right now," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Hurricane Florence
Flood waters from Hurricane Florence surround a house and flow along the street on Sept. 16, 2018 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Since Friday, parts of North Carolina have received over 30 inches of rain. In some places, it's still pouring and the rivers are still rising. Many of them won't crest before Monday, CBS2's Mola Lenghi reported.

"The strongest storm bands are dumping two to three inches of rain per hour. That's enough to cause flooding in areas that have never flooded before," Cooper said.

Nearly 1 million homes and businesses are without power as the storm continues to dump rain.

PHOTOS: Scenes From Hurricane Florence In The Carolinas

"It's pretty deep," said Cali Sterling of Jacksonville, N.C. "There's cars already going under. There's people freaking out."

Early Sunday morning, officials in Cumberland County near Fayetteville, North Carolina, ordered new mandatory evacuations.

They feared the nearby Cape Fear River would crest above 62 feet, a level of flooding that has not been seen since 1945.

Rescues happened by boat and helicopter in North Carolina. New York Task Force 1, one of the country's most advanced urban search and rescue units, has been working near New Bern.

They posted photos after working with local rescue teams rescuing someone from the rising water. They say that is now the biggest threat.

"The water levels is the biggest one (threat)," said Craig Needham of the North Carolina National Guard. "And then secondary would be downed trees, power lines, anything that prevents our vehicle from getting to them (stranded residents)."

Early Sunday morning the National Hurricane Center said it expects the storm to continue weakening, but issued a new warning about landslides they expect could occur in parts of western North Carolina.

"As you know, those rivers in North Carolina that have received heavy rainfall are coming our way," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

McMaster warned his constituents to brace themselves for what could be days of dangerous flooding.

"A flash flood is called a flash flood because it comes and goes in a flash," McMaster said.

In New Jersey, several donation drives filled truck after truck with supplies for both people and pets displaced by the devastating storm. Video showing dogs and cats in rescuers' arms has moved many in our area to respond.

On Sunday morning, North Carolina state regulators and environmental groups escalated worries about hog and poultry farms in low-lying, flood-prone areas.

Industrial-scale farms typically feature vast pits of animal feces and urine that can pose a significant pollution threat if they are breached or inundated by floodwaters - and in past hurricanes, flooding at dozens of farms also left hundreds of thousands of dead hogs, chickens and other decomposing livestock bobbing in the floodwaters.


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