Florence, Now a Tropical Depression, Still Dumping More Rain

Florence, Now a Tropical Depression, Still Dumping More Rain
Florence is now a tropical depression, but continues to dump buckets of rain on parts of the southeastern United States, after the devastating storm killed at least 13 people, flooded towns and highways and knocked out power to more than 800,000 homes.

The National Hurricane Center said Sunday the remnants of one-time Hurricane Florence are now centered 55 kilometers southwest of Columbia, South Carolina, the state capital that is well inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It has top sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour.

But one meteorologist said, "This is still a catastrophic, life-threatening storm."

The center said it expects the storm to move across the western part of South Carolina and North Carolina, then move north over the Ohio River valley and toward the northeastern United States on Monday and Tuesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long told Fox News, "This is going to be a long, frustrating event" for those who have lost their homes or face substantial damage when they eventually are able to return.

It said the storm will continue to "produce heavy and excessive rainfall," endangering towns and cities in its path.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, "All roads in the state right now are at risk of floods. As rivers keep rising and rains keep falling, the flooding will spread. More and more inland counties are issuing mandatory evacuations to get people to safety quickly."

One of the hardest hit cities in North Carolina was New Bern, a riverfront city not far from the coastline. Mayor Dana Outlaw said the city, hit by a three-meter storm surge at the height of the storm on Friday, has 4,200 damaged homes.

Across North Carolina, 26,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters after escaping their homes in advance of the flood waters.

The White House said President Donald Trump would visit the storm-ravaged region in the coming days, but only after it is determined his arrival would not disrupt continuing rescue and recovery efforts.

The hurricane agency said it expects Florence will dump up to another 25 centimeters of rain on central and western North Carolina, on top of the 38 to 50 centimeters that has already fallen on the region. It said the additional rain will "produce catastrophic flash flooding, prolonged significant river flooding, and an elevated risk for landslides in western North Carolina and far southwest Virginia."

Further to the south, the weather forecasters are predicting an additional 10 to 15 centimeters of rain to fall in hardest hit area in southeastern North Carolina, where the storm dumped 75 to 100 centimeters of rain after crashing into the state's coastline on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane.

Because the storm virtually stalled after hitting the shoreline, it has dumped record amounts of rain on the mid-Atlantic region, pulling warm water from the ocean. Storm surges, flash flooding and wind have left a path of destruction, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to return to their homes until floodwaters recede, which is expected to take days in many instances.