Flooding caused by Hurricane Florence causes death, destruction, and economic losses

Flooding caused by Hurricane Florence causes death, destruction, and economic losses

Ozias Covington , Staff Writer

Hurricane Florence devastated sections of the eastern coast and left millions homeless when it hit the Carolinas on September 14. While wind speeds stayed between 30-37 mph and the hurricane registered below a category 1, flooding resulted in 37 storm-related deaths and more than 340,00 without power.  

Rainfall was as high as 36 inches in Elizabethtown, NC, and the Cape Fear River crested at 62 feet, causing widespread flooding.

Many people from the Carolinas and Virginia  fled inland.  More than 1.7 million people were directed to do so. However, about half of those stayed and took what precautions they could.

In New Bern, North Carolina, one of the areas hit hardest by Florence, about 300 people needed rescue after more than 10 feet of powerful storm surge flooded the small city. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area earlier in the week.  Residents in Wilmington, NC were left stranded by flooded roads, and 700 people had to be rescued and provided with supplies by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Overall, about 10,000 people in North Carolina stayed in shelters due to the storm.

Of the deaths, 37 deaths caused by Florence, one was a 1-yr old in Union County. His mother had escaped her car with him after the vehicle was washed away by floodwaters, but then she lost her grip and the boy was swept away, authorities said.

While North Carolina was heavily impacted, Virginia saw damage as well. CBS NEWS reports that Virginia officials say a tornado touched down and damaged three properties in the southern part of the state near the border with North Carolina. Virginia Department of Emergency Management State Coordinator Jeff Stern said the tornado touched down in Mecklenburg County on Monday. Stern said there were no reports of injuries, and two homes and a trailer were damaged.

Due to the storm, trees fell on houses, streets became flooded, up to 40 inches of rain fell, and boats crashed into homes near rivers.   An economic consulting firm says Hurricane Florence may result in between $17 billion and $22 billion in property damage and lost income. That would put Florence in the Top 10 of costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S.  The total cost of hurricanes has been rising because of increased construction in coastal areas and more severe flooding associated with rising sea levels, said CBS News.

In addition to property damage,  a quarter to a half of tobacco crops were damaged. The cotton and peanut crops were also impacted, and 3.4 million broiler chickens and  turkeys as well more than five thousand pigs drowned when factory farms flooded.

Flooding continues in some areas more than two weeks later, and many are still in shelters.  Organizations are delivering food, supplies, and aid to impacted areas, and clean-up and repairs will continue for months if not years.