Thousands of coastal residents remained on edge as they were told they may need to leave their homes because rivers are still rising, more than a week after Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas.
About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, South Carolina, were alerted to be prepared to evacuate ahead of a “record event” of up to 3 metres of flooding expected from heavy rains dumped by Florence, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.
She said flooding was expected to begin on Tuesday (local time) near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers and that people in potential flood zones should plan to leave their homes on Monday.
The county’s emergency management director, Sam Hodge, said in a video message posted online that authorities were closely watching river gauges and law enforcement would be going door to door in any threatened areas.
“From boots on the ground to technology that we have, we are trying to be able to get the message out,” Mr Hodge said in the video feed, advising people they shouldn’t await an official order to evacuate should they begin to feel unsafe.
In North Carolina, five river gauges were still at major flood stage and five others were at moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.
The Cape Fear River was expected to crest and remain at flood stage through the early part of the week, and parts of Interstates 95 and 40 were expected to remain underwater for another week or more.
But floodwaters already receding on one stretch of Interstate 40 left thousands of rotting fish on the pavement for firefighters to clean up.
Video showed firefighters blasting the dead fish to the highway shoulder with a fire hose in Penderlea County in eastern North Carolina.
“We can add ‘washing fish off of the interstate’ to the long list of interesting things firefighters get to experience,” the Penderlea Fire Department posted on its website.
North Carolina Emergency Management director Michael Sprayberry said eastern counties continued to see major flooding, including areas along the Black, Lumber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.
He said residents who registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency could begin moving into hotels on Monday.
The program initially will be open to residents in nine counties and then will be expanded.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinator said about 69,000 people from North Carolina had registered for assistance so far.
“Hurricane Florence has deeply wounded our state, wounds that will not fade soon as the flood waters finally recede,” Governor Roy Cooper said on Saturday.
The storm has claimed at least 43 lives since slamming into the coast on September 14.