The Charlotte Observer on Sept. 17 reported that the death toll as a result of Hurricane Florence totals 19, and according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, as of 1 p.m., on Sept. 17, there were 472,698 statewide power outages due to the storm.
According to a Sept. 17 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center Tropical Depression Florence public advisory, at 11 a.m., EDT, the center of Tropical Depression Florence was located near latitude 38.5 North, longitude 82.9 West. The depression is moving toward the northeast near 15 mph and is forecast to become extratropical late on Sept. 17, while accelerating to the east-northeast, the public advisory said.
Maximum sustained winds are near 25 mph with higher gusts, the public advisory said, adding that little change in strength is forecast until the low moves into the western Atlantic by early Sept. 19.
Florence is expected to produce heavy to excessive rainfall over the next couple of days, the public advisory noted, adding that portions of the Mid-Atlantic states west of Interstate 95 into southern New York and southern New England are expected to receive an additional two to four inches of rain, with isolated maximum amounts of six inches possible.
The public advisory also noted that a couple of tornadoes remain possible from northeast South Carolina and eastern/central North Carolina into parts of Virginia, western Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania through Sept. 17.
According to a Sept. 16 statement posted on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s website, as of noon on Sept. 16, more than 15,000 people remained in more than 150 shelters across the state. Mass shelters are open in Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill, the statement noted, adding that additional shelters will open if needed.
The statewide information line – dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, or text Florence to 898211 – can provide callers with nearby shelter, housing, and other storm-related details, according to the statement. Noting that the governor’s office has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund for donations to support North Carolina’s response to Hurricane Florence, the statement said that to donate, one may visit governor.nc.gov, or text Florence to 20222.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) separately on Sept. 16 said that at the request of local officials, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted all evacuation orders for all zones along the South Carolina coast. Residents should remember the effects of Tropical Depression Florence will continue for days, if not weeks, the statement said.
Noting that local public safety officials manage the entry to previously evacuated communities, the statement said that residents should follow the directions provided by county and local governments to safely return to their homes.
Because donations of products for disaster relief require transportation, warehousing, and distribution, the most effective offer is a monetary donation through the One SC fund, the statement noted, adding that that “fund is used to support nonprofit organizations providing relief and recovery assistance to disaster victims and will allow us to direct those funds to charitable organizations assisting South Carolina victims.”
As of Sept. 16, there were more than 61,000 people without power across South Carolina, according to the statement.
In a separate Sept. 16 statement, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) said that it has restored power to more than one million customers so far in North Carolina and South Carolina out of more than 1.4 million total power outages in the wake of what is now Tropical Depression Florence.
Some of the most challenging power restoration work remains ahead in currently inaccessible coastal areas that experienced massive flooding and structural damage, Duke Energy said, adding that this weekend, it moved crews and equipment as close as possible to those heavily impacted areas to enable comprehensive restoration work to begin as soon as conditions allow.
In 12 of North Carolina’s hardest-hit counties, more than 75% of Duke Energy’s customers have lost power: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, and Robeson, the company said.
Duke Energy noted that it has dispatched more than 20,000 personnel to restore power, adding that their efforts are being hampered by severe flooding, road closures, wind gusts and storm debris in coastal and other areas of the Carolinas.