'We're with you': Trump shakes hands with Florence victims

Image courtesy NCDOT

Florence has left at least 36 people dead, including 27 in North Carolina, eight in SC and one in Virginia, after 36 inches of rain fell in the area.

President Donald Trump visited North and SC on Wednesday, saying the government will be there to help. "I can't tell you why, but I love that area".

"The money will come as fast as you need it", Trump told officials during a briefing at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in the southeastern part of North Carolina. The flooding from Florence had subsided, only to get worse again.

He sympathized with those who were forced to flee and are now relying on government-distributed bottled water and ready-to-eat field rations.

Interstate 95 runs from the Canadian border to Miami, Florida - covering 1,917 miles and passing through fifteen states (more than any other Interstate in America). The town of Wilmington still remains largely isolated, with no safe routes in or out. Roads remained risky, and some were still being closed as swollen rivers emptied toward the ocean.

The decision to close the road comes less than 12 hours after the department had reopened a 9-mile (14-kilometer) stretch of the highway near the North Carolina state line, which had meant the entire highway was open in the state.

Wilmington, just down the coast, remains nearly completely cut off by flooding from the Cape Fear River and earlier storm surges from Florence.

In South Carolina, two women died on Tuesday evening (Wednesday NZT) after a van taking the mental health patients from one facility to another was overtaken by rising floodwaters near the Little Pee Dee River, authorities said.

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And waste from those hog farms has been leaking into floodwaters.

Horry County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Brooke Holden says a sheriff's office van was carrying two detainees and two deputies from Conway to Darlington on Tuesday night when it was overtaken by flood waters.

Duke Energy has activated a high-level emergency alert at a retired coal-fired power plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, as floodwaters from the nearby Cape Fear River overtopped an earthen dike and inundated a large lake.

Todd Tremain needed tarps to cover up spots where Florence's winds ripped shingles off his roof. An olive-drab military forklift moved around huge pallets loaded with supplies.

Brandon Echavarrieta struggled to stay composed as he described life post-Florence: no power for days, rotted meat in the freezer, no water or food and just one bath in a week.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said it was unclear if the bridge was threatened.

Trump called Florence "one of the most powerful and devastating storms ever to hit our country" and promised federal support for disaster relief.


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