Florence death toll climbs to 37; Trump visits stricken area

People begin to form a line as they wait outside Rose Ice & Coal for it to open days after Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
This combination of photos shows the Cape Fear River on Sept. 17, 2018, left, and on Sept. 19, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photos/David Goldman)
Kyle Crawford uses a shopping cart to carry bags of ice he purchased days after Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C. Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Augustin Dieudomme looks out at the flooded entrance to his apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
President Donald Trump visits the Temple Baptist Church, where food and other supplies are being distributed during Hurricane Florence recovery efforts, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In this combination of photos, Cape Fear River flows under the Person Street bridge on Sept. 15, 2018, left, and on Sept. 19, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A car sits in a flooded parking lot at an apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Stan Atamanchuk, right, buys large bags of ice from Roase Ice & Coal days after Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C. Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Ralph Nixon drinks a cup of coffee as he takes a break from helping customers at Rose Ice & Coal purchase ice in Wilmington, N.C. Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charles Gardner checks the level of the Cape Fear River near his property after its projected time of cresting in Fayetteville, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Cars sit abandoned on a flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Lillington, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Maine Johnson with the city's communications department, takes photos of the Cape Fear River after its projected time of cresting in Fayetteville, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Augustin Dieudomme walks by the flooded entrance to his apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this combination of photos, the Cape Fear River flows under the Grove Street bridge in the background on Sept. 16, 2018, left and on Sept. 19, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photos/David Goldman)
Residents look out at the flooded entrance to an apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Augustin Dieudomme looks out at the flooded entrance to his apartment complex near the Cape Fear River as it continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
President Donald Trump visits the Temple Baptist Church, where food and other supplies are being distributed during Hurricane Florence recovery efforts, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This combination of photos shows the Cape Fear River on Sept. 16, 2018, left, and on Sept. 19, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photos/David Goldman)

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The death toll from Hurricane Florence climbed to at least 37, including two women who drowned when a sheriff's van taking them to a mental health facility was swept away by floodwaters, and North Carolina's governor pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return home just yet.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, arrived in storm-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday and helped volunteers at a church in the hard-hit coastal town of New Bern.

"How's the house?" Trump was heard asking one person as distributed plastic foam containers of food, including hot dogs, chips and fruit. "You take care of yourself."

Wilmington, population 120,000, was still mostly an island surrounded by floodwaters, and people waited for hours Tuesday for handouts of food, water and tarps. Thousands of others around the state waited in shelters for the all-clear.

"I know it was hard to leave home, and it is even harder to wait and wonder whether you even have a home to go back to," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

After submerging North Carolina with nearly 3 feet (1 meter) of rain, the storm dumped more than 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) of rain in the Northeast, where it caused flash flooding.

Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places.

"I know for many people this feels like a nightmare that just won't end," he said.

Addressing roughly 10,000 people who remain in shelters and "countless more" staying elsewhere, Cooper urged them to stay put for now, particularly those from the hardest-hit coastal counties that include Wilmington, near where Florence blew ashore on Friday.

Roads remain treacherous, he said, and some are still being closed for the first time as rivers swelled by torrential rains inland drain toward the Atlantic.

At least 27 of the deaths happened in North Carolina.

In South Carolina, two women died on Tuesday evening when floodwaters from the Little Pee Dee River engulfed the van taking them to a mental health facility, authorities said.

The risk of environmental damage mounted, as human and animal waste was washed into the swirling floodwaters.

More than 5 million gallons (18 million liters) of partially treated sewage spilled into the Cape Fear River after power went out at a treatment plant, officials said, and the earthen dam of a pond holding hog waste was breached, spilling its contents. The flooding killed an estimated 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs on farms.

In Wilmington on Tuesday, workers began handing out supplies using a system resembling a giant fast-food drive-thru: Drivers pulled up to a line of pallets, placed an order and left without having to get out. A woman blew a whistle each time drivers had to pull forward.

Todd Tremain needed tarps to cover up spots where Florence's winds ripped shingles off his roof. Others got a case of bottled water or military MREs, or field rations. 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.

"It's been pretty bad," said Echavarrieta, 34, his voice breaking.

About 3,500 vehicles came through for supplies on the first day they were available, county officials said in a Facebook post.

Supplies have been brought into the city by big military trucks and helicopters,

At Fayetteville, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) inland, near the Army's sprawling Fort Bragg, flooding from Cape Fear River got so bad that authorities closed a vehicle bridge after the water began touching girders supporting the span's top deck.

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

"We've never had it at those levels before, so we don't really know what the impact will be just yet," he said.

___

Waggoner reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. AP photographer Gerry Broome in Lumberton, North Carolina; Gary Robertson in Raleigh; Alex Derosier in Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.

___

Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

___

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

___

This story has been corrected to show the death toll in North Carolina is 27, not 29.

Must Read

Israel shuts Egypt border after terror warning...

Apr 10, 2017

Israel has closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt following a warning by its anti-terrorism...

Jerusalem still suffers from divisions, 50 years...

May 25, 2017

Jerusalem remains deeply divided, 50 years after Israel's capture of city's eastern part in 1967...

With few options, Israeli couples turn to rogue...

Dec 23, 2017

A growing number of Israeli couples are defying the country's Chief Rabbinate and marrying in...

Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens...

Feb 28, 2018

Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens after Israel suspended plan to impose taxes on...

Israel to restrict entry of Gaza Christians for...

Mar 29, 2018

Israeli authorities say they have decided to block most of Gaza's small Christian community from...

Sign up now!

About Us

Walk To The Place offers travel news of popular destinations for travelers with the urge to explore these places.

Contact us: sales[at]walktotheplace.com

Subscribe Now!