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But as the textile industry grew, it was eventually surpassed in size and importance by North Carolina cities farther inland. Eastern North Carolina rivers like the Cape Fear now serve less as the commercial lifeblood than they did in decades past. Instead, Dr. The state has 9. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army was marching with his unit toward Fayetteville and they became mired in floodwaters. With a 9,square-mile basin roughly the size of New Jersey, the Cape Fear and its tributaries can flood a wide swath of southeastern North Carolina, said Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear riverkeeper.
The river crested in Fayetteville early Wednesday, topping out about three and a half feet higher than it had been after Hurricane Matthew in , sending floodwaters around some apartment complexes and into some businesses, but not appearing to cause the damage many had feared. And a roughly mile stretch of the Cape Fear is a tidal river.
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Every 12 hours, a high tide creates a sort of dam that slows the flow and creates a tug of war that can contribute to flooding when the flow is exceptionally high. Burdette, who grew up in Wilmington, said Florence is likely to eclipse flood records set by Hurricane Floyd in and Hurricane Matthew in He said recent hurricanes have been influenced, to a certain extent, by climate change, adding that more than three-quarters of the floods in downtown Wilmington over the past 60 years have come during the past decade. Late Tuesday morning, as residents along the length of the Cape Fear River took stock of the damage and debated whether to leave before the flooding would get worse, a bright orange Coast Guard helicopter circled a nearby neighborhood in Rocky Point, N.
For days, this community of modest homes by a wildlife reserve had watched helicopters pass overhead, hoping that one might stop to bring supplies. This one had arrived to pick up several families with young children whose homes were in danger of flooding.
Residents of this inland community bordering the Northeast Cape Fear River said they had not been told at first to leave. Now, there was no exit, every route blocked by water. On Tuesday afternoon, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there was no longer a safe way in or out of Wilmington. Campbell Robertson contributed reporting from Fayetteville, N.
A truck is submerged in floodwaters in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Saturday. A woman calls for help at her flooded residence as Florence brought large amounts of rain and floodwaters to Lumberton, North Carolina, on Saturday. People wait in line to fill gas cans at a gas station that was damaged when Florence hit Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday.
Mike Pollack searches for a drain in the yard of his flooded waterfront home in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday. Ray Baca of Wilmington, North Carolina, checks his phone as he sits on a bench. A sailboat lifted by storm surge leans against a building at Bridgepointe Marina in New Bern, North Carolina, on Saturday, a day after Florence's landfall. Kim Adams wades through floodwaters surrounding her home in Southport, North Carolina, on September Volunteers help rescue people from their flooded homes in New Bern on September The storm leaves a tree toppled in New Bern on September Robert Simmons Jr.
Teddie Davis checks on one of the New Bern's signature bear statues toppled by the storm on September Another one of the bears, in the background, ended up in the middle of a downtown street. An abandoned van sits on a flooded road near New Bern on September Rescue workers attempt to remove a giant tree that fell onto a house in Wilmington, North Carolina, on September Two people died when the tree collapsed -- among the first storm-related deaths due to Hurricane Florence.
Electric poles that snapped in half sway from their wires in Wilmington on September Lee Casteen, left, and Try Hinton use a chainsaw to clear a tree blocking a road in Wilmington on September Rescue workers help a woman and her dog from a flooded house in James City on September Michael Nelson floats in a boat fashioned from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River flooded September 13 in New Bern. Powerful winds and waves destroy portions of a boat dock and boardwalk in Atlantic Beach on September Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you.
Both lanes of Interstate 26 flow westbound in North Charleston, South Carolina, toward Columbia as people evacuate inland on September A man eyes a store's bare bread shelves as people stock up on food in Myrtle Beach on September Chuck Ledford, left, watches cartoons on a phone with his daughter Misty as they seek shelter at Emma B.
For the first time since Florence ravaged North Carolina, residents in the island town of Wrightsville Beach were allowed to return home Tuesday. But it will be a while before life gets back to normal. A curfew will be in place from 8 p. In North Carolina, cities such as Wilmington and Lumberton are bracing for more flooding. Wilmington was the epicenter of Florence's destruction. Rainfall totals of But by Tuesday morning, a bit of good news: Two roadways previously blocked are now passable, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.
In Lumberton, where residents scrambled to plug the levee system , parts of Interstate 95 will remain closed until the Lumber River drops below 21 feet.
That might not happen until next week, said Corey Walters, the city's deputy director of public works. But it's impossible to say how deep the Lumber River is now, because the official river gauge stopped working a few days ago. Walters estimated the current depth is about 25 feet. Wilmington will have its wettest year in the city's years of record-keeping. More than 86 inches of rain have fallen so far. On average, Wilmington gets about 43 inches by this time of the year.
Before Florence sputters out for good, it also struck Virginia with a litany of tornadoes. An estimated 15 to 20 tornadoes touched down in at least six counties Monday, the state's Department of Emergency Management Joint Information Center said. One tornado caused the first Florence-related death in Virginia when a building collapsed in Chesterfield County south of Richmond.
Jason Elmore tweeted drone footage of the tornado's destruction, including buildings that were annihilated. Water was inches away from the door at Duplicates INK, but that didn't stop Cassidy or his employees. They were trying to get one last big order out before the water moved in, and they put sandbags around the biggest, most expensive pieces of equipment hoping to safeguard them.
We're just going to deal with what we have to deal with and be as tough as we can be and move through it.
Book Launch: Philip Gerard’s 25th Anniversary Edition of CAPE FEAR RISING
It sucks. Cassidy said he continued working because he made commitments to his customers, and because 10 families rely on paychecks from the business. He said several competitors and friends will help fill the company's orders for them. Of the 33 storm-related deaths, at least 26 were in North Carolina, six were in South Carolina and one was in Virginia.
They include:. How to help Hurricane Florence victims. When emergency responders tried to reach her, their path was blocked by fallen trees.