“Epic” amounts of rain are expected to continue to deluge North Carolina on Sunday, downing trees and causing rivers to overflow in areas already inundated by Florence.
The monster storm was downgraded to a tropical depression early Sunday, but experts said this was still “a catastrophic, life-threatening storm.” Fourteen people are believed to have died in the storm.
“It has already dumped 20 to 30 inches of rain on parts of the Carolinas with more to come,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center’s Weather Prediction Center. “And many of the rivers will see prolonged flooding.”
Already more than two feet of rain has fallen in places and forecasters warned there could be an additional 1 1/2 feet before Sunday is out, as the chance of thunderstorms and tornadoes increased.
The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee are all projected to crest Sunday and Monday and burst their banks, possibly flooding nearby communities. An elevated risk of landslides is also now expected in western North Carolina.
Some roads were closed by rushing water Saturday night while others were blocked off by toppled trees, felled by saturated soil and strong winds, the Charlotte Observer said.
Power outages exceeded 27,000 in the metro area by 3 a.m. Sunday, the paper added.
The storm was about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, SC, moving west at 8 mph with sustained winds of 35 mph at about 5 a.m. Sunday. The storm is tracked to move across the western Carolinas and then curve over the Ohio Valley on Monday and Tuesday.
Authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear river and Little River to get out of their homes by Sunday afternoon because of the flood risk.
“If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because loss of life is very, very possible,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.
“The worst is yet to come.”
With Post wires