National

The misery of the Carolinas in Florence’s wide path of destruction

Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post

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New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 15

Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post

Before the worst arrived, Hurricane Florence’s sharp winds and historic rainfall came first for New Bern, N.C., a gracious 300-year-old town that took its name from the capital of Switzerland, went on to invent Pepsi-Cola and lured new residents by its beauty — at the juncture of two picturesque rivers, the Neuse and the Trent.

When the storm made landfall early Friday morning, rainwater saturated New Bern from above, and coastal seawater overwhelmed it from the ground, surging up those rivers, flipping boats, stranding hundreds in their homes, and showing Carolinians both north and south what was coming next.

New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 15

Gray Whitley/AP

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New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 14

Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post

New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 15

Steve Helber/AP

“I’d like to think we’re past the worst of it. But it’s kind of like plumbing — the water’s going to come down those rivers.”

— Lt. David Daniels of the New Bern Police Department

Steve Helber/AP

New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 16

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New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 15

Steve Helber/AP

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New Bern, N.C.

Sept. 14

Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post

That was the drama of Friday. Now, New Bern is only the first of places devastated by a lumbering and stubborn storm that will not quit. Florence, even as a tropical depression, continues to drown much of the Carolinas, pushing down the coast and up into Virginia. By Monday, the storm had claimed at least 23 lives, closed nearly 200 primary roads and sections of Interstate 95, and plunged millions into the dark. It is testing the mettle of all in its path, many of whom lived through the devastation of Hurricane Matthew two years ago.

As Florence persists, the battered Carolina landscape looked like this.

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Jacksonville, N.C.

Sept. 15

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Newport, N.C.

Sept. 17

Robert Willett/The News & Observer/AP

Newport, N.C.

Sept. 17

Robert Willett/The News & Observer/AP

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North Carolina

Sept. 16

U.S. Coast Guard via Storyful

Bolivia, N.C.

Sept. 14

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Bolivia, N.C.

Sept. 14

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Pender County, N.C.

Sept. 16

U.S. Coast Guard via Storyful

Davis, N.C.

Sept. 15

Tom Copeland/AP

“I had my house raised for Irene ’cause I got flooded from the bottom. Now I’m getting flooded from the top.”

— Daniel Lilly, while covering his roof, to the Associated Press

Tom Copeland/AP

Davis, N.C.

Sept. 15

Tom Copeland/AP

James City, N.C.

Sept. 14

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Hyde County, N.C.

Sept. 15

Steve Helber/AP

Waccamaw, N.C.

Sept. 15

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Those spared Florence’s intensity at landfall knew the water would push on. Officials ordered new evacuations.

In Fayetteville, N.C., located 100 miles inland near Fort Bragg, and Lumberton, seat of the state’s largest county by land, people who lived through the massive flooding of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 braced for rivers and streams to crest at new levels sometime midweek. Rain pounded down, creating new hazards for rescuers by the hour.

Thirty-five miles south in Lumberton, officials were emptying senior homes and relying on an aging levee to contain a swollen river.

David Goldman/AP

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Fayetteville, N.C.

Sept. 15

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Fayetteville, N.C.

Sept. 17

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Fayetteville, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Fayetteville, N.C.

Sept. 16

David Goldman/AP

Spring Lake, N.C.

Sept. 17

David Goldman/AP

Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 14

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 14

David Goldman/AP

“I don’t think we can stand another one. I can’t do this again.”

— Nichole Worley to the AP

David Goldman/AP

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

Randall Hill/Reuters

Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 17

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 17

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 17

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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Lumberton, N.C.

Sept. 16

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In Florence’s aftermath, at least six people had died by Monday afternoon in South Carolina, a state where officials were also anticipate flooding from overwhelmed waterways. A flash flood watch is in effect, and thousands of National Guard members had been deployed to assist with evacuations and water rescues.

Power outages turned nightfall into an eerie darkness.

Florence, S.C.

Sept. 16

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Latta, S.C.

Sept. 16

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Loris, S.C.

Sept. 17

Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post

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Kinston, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Southport, N.C.

Sept. 15

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Leland, N.C.

Sept. 17

Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post

Leland, N.C.

Sept. 17

JONATHAN DRAKE/Reuters

On the coast, the North Carolina town of Wilmington was hit first last week when Florence made landfall at nearby Wrightsville Beach. Then the rain kept falling and the rivers, gathering water upstream, kept rising.

By Monday, roads leading in and out of the city were swamped, handicapping access to Wilmington and residents trapped there. Long lines looped outside restaurants and stores, their entrances guarded by police as people waited for food, gas and water.

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Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 14

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Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 16

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Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 14

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Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 14

Whitney Leaming and Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post

Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 15

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Wilmington, N.C.

Sept. 16

Chuck Burton/AP

“Floodwaters are still raging across parts of our state, and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters.”

— North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) at a news conference

Chuck Burton/AP