Hurricane Florence: North Carolina Floods

Sep 15, 2018
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A day and a half after Florence made landfall, some people in the path of the storm are still holed up in their homes and shelters waiting for the storm to pass. At least another foot of rain is expected over the next couple of days. NPR's Greg Allen has the latest.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Castle Hayne is a low-lying community on the Cape Fear River. Throughout the area, streams swollen from the rain are outside of their banks, and the Cape Fear River is expected soon to be a flood stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

ALLEN: To get to Michelle Mullins' home, you have to wade through water shin-deep. She says it flooded last night after hours of rain.

MICHELLE MULLINS: When the rain started coming in, we knew right away. And we have sump pumps around our house, but they couldn't stay up with them.

ALLEN: You've got sandbags all around, too, I see.

MULLINS: Yeah, all the way around. Yeah. We put extra, and we put plywood in the doors. And then it just - we couldn't stop it. When it came in, it came in full-force.

ALLEN: Castle Hayne is just ten miles outside of Wilmington, a rural community of modest homes, many of them older. This is the third time since the Mullinses have owned a home that they'd been flooded out. Mullins says they had flood insurance but dropped it last year after Hurricane Matthew when their rates soared. Now, after Hurricane Florence, she says they're leaving.

MULLINS: My husband was born and raised in this house. His parents have lived here since the late '50s. And they were flooded years ago, but, believe it or not, we built up the property. This has all been built up. And to - but it didn't save it. So - but we won't do it again.

ALLEN: Not far away in Castle Hayne, the Northside Mobile Home Park so far has largely escaped flooding, but it's in bad shape.

KELLY FLOYD: One of the neighbors - the tree went right through the front of their house. It's smashed.

ALLEN: Kelly Floyd evacuated with her kids before the storm. She was back there today to check on her trailer and the neighborhood. She says her home's OK, but others weren't as lucky.

FLOYD: The owner of this property just put a new trailer in up there. There's a tree laying on it. There's trees down everywhere. Nobody has power. There's power lines down all in the front. The front entrance to this is flooded and covered with trees and power lines, so you can't even get in the front entrance. So we're all stuck. Half the people can't get out. Other people can't get in. It's going to be a long road.

ALLEN: Juan Diaz (ph) lives in a home that now looks like it's sitting in the middle of a lake. Although the water has risen, so far the inside of his house has stayed dry.

JUAN DIAZ: So it goes in the ground pretty fast. But, you know, it went, like, another probably six inches higher. So it was close - really close to the house.

ALLEN: Diaz is there with his extended family, including several children. For the kids playing outside, splashing in puddles with their cousins, it's a party. Diaz says they have plenty of food and drinking water. Like everyone, now he's just waiting and hoping for the power to come back. When the hurricane hit, it was scary. But he says everyone's safe, which is the important thing.

DIAZ: We lost that tree there, and we lost another one over there, so we've got a lot of trees that are lost. But we're in a landscape business, so we're going to clean up pretty quick soon as it dries up. We're going to get the chainsaws going and clean it up.

ALLEN: County officials here say teams are already out clearing roads of downed trees. That workforce redoubled, they say, when power restoration crews arrived. They'd been pre-positioned throughout the area but are waiting for the winds to die down before they can get to work and put the lights back on.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Wilmington, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.