Florence is now south of Florence
by Tom Sullivan
Florence’s five fatalities included a mother and her infant killed after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, the city’s police department said. The father was hospitalized with injuries.
In Hampstead, emergency responders going to a call for cardiac arrest found their path blocked by downed trees. When they got to the home, the woman was dead, authorities said.
Two men were also killed in Lenoir County: One was electrocuted while hooking up a generator and the other while checking on his dogs outside, emergency officials said.
CNN reports about 781,000 customers without power in North Carolina and another 165,000 in South Carolina.
“The worst flooding will likely start Saturday night or Sunday morning, according to predictions from the National Weather Service, and will continue for at least several days,” reports the Raleigh, North Carolina News and Observer as the now-tropical storm Florence crawls inland at a walking pace. Wilmington, NC could see 30 to 40 inches of rain.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that river flooding around the South Carolina beach resort of Myrtle Beach could leave the town, already depleted of food and fuel supplies, cut off by road as low-lying roadways into the area disappear under flood waters:
Officials are “looking at ways to get back into that area, either through establishing a route in by land or by water or by air. If we have to, we’ll bring supplies in by helicopters or aircraft,” said Livingston, the head of the South Carolina National Guard.
The sitting president assured residents on Tuesday, “The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority. We are sparing no expense. We are totally prepared. We’re ready. We’re as ready as anybody has ever been.” Puerto Rico may beg to differ after an independent study released this week showed the death toll from last year’s Hurricane Maria at near 3,000.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
Trump spent Thursday and Friday tweeting loudly about how 3,000 Americans did not die in Puerto Rico from relief failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The White House said on Friday, Trump would visit the region sometime “early to middle next week” to see the destruction from Florence firsthand (and to try unsuccessfully to mimic empathy).
Once the flooding subsides, how long the recovery might take will depend on Congress. Spending on recovery tends to get political, and the mid-term elections are just weeks away.
“The FEMA fund is pretty well stocked right now, there’s no immediate need for money,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) who sits on the Appropriations Committee:
“I’ve noticed a lot of born-again people in disaster relief since we’ve had the series of hurricanes,” said Cole, noting that fiscal conservatives tend to support such bills when “their area gets hit.”
Still, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was already making it clear he wasn’t interested in passing a disaster relief bill without offsets, even to rebuild his home state.
We’ll see how long Meadows holds if mountainsides in his district let go as they did after Ivan in 2004, killing five and injuring more.
Flash flood warnings remain in effect for southeastern North Carolina until Saturday afternoon. Upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina are under a flash flood watch through Monday evening.
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