How Florence drowned the city of New Bern, North Carolina
Tropical storm Florence left a few nasty surprises for Leigh Bell.
It flooded her home in New Bern, N.C., with water. It tore apart her 1.5-storey garage, leaving behind the roof and foundation and carrying off the rest.
It also dumped a 12-metre yacht in her yard.
“Don’t know where the Miss Scarlett came from — the boat,” she told the Associated Press on Sunday. “It must have been anchored somewhere and just washed in during the storm.”
Bell was among the thousands of New Bern residents surveying the damage to her property on Sunday, after hurricane-turned-tropical storm Florence finished pounding the community with 145 km/h winds and heavy rain.
The city of 30,000 sits near the Atlantic Ocean, between the Trent and Neuse rivers. Florence’s storm surge backed up both rivers, raising their water levels by as much as three metres above normal and flooding the community from the north, south and east, the National Weather Service says.
WATCH BELOW: What it’s like to drive through rain-soaked New Bern
The community’s flood report map shows most of its coastline was inundated by water due to the storm.
More than 4,200 homes and 300 commercial buildings were damaged by the flooding, New Bern’s mayor said Sunday. Thirty roads were deemed unusable, and 1,200 residents are in temporary shelters, he said.
Some areas were still underwater and only accessible by boat on Monday. Others were starting to dry out, revealing piles of debris and leaving behind several small- and medium-sized boats. Power remained out for thousands of customers.
Rescue crews saved 800 people in New Bern over the weekend, officials said Monday.
The city has instituted a curfew to keep people off the streets as much as possible, so hydro workers can restore power to neighbourhoods that are still in the dark. More than 22,000 customers lost power in the storm, but 80 per cent of service has been restored, officials said Monday.
Mayor Dana Outlaw urged citizens to stay off the street Sunday, in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.
“Don’t get in the way of our electrical linemen,” Outlaw said. “When you’re riding around you’re keeping somebody from getting their power back on.”
He added that while the storm has passed, New Bern is still at risk from the rain falling farther upstream. Much of the water falling inland will eventually run past New Bern on its way back to the ocean, he said.
“A lot of the creeks around New Bern are increasing by the hour,” he said.
Florence dropped up to one metre of rain in some parts of North and South Carolina. The system was downgraded to a tropical depression over the weekend as it continued on its path westward.
Officials are also concerned that the soggy ground will cause large trees to topple over.
The floodwaters have damaged some of New Bern’s roads, but it remains connected to the rest of the state and is receiving aid.
At least 18 people have died in the Carolinas due to the storm.
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