Crews throw a lifeline to an isolated Wilmington

AFTERMATH OF FLORENCE — Cars are submerged in a neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday. -- Associated Press

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Throwing a lifeline to a city surrounded by floodwaters, emergency crews delivered food and water to Wilmington on Monday as rescuers picked up more people stranded by Hurricane Florence and the storm’s remnants took aim at the densely populated Northeast.

The death toll from Florence rose to at least 20, and crews elsewhere used helicopters and boats to rescue people trapped by still-rising rivers.

“Thank you,” a frazzled, shirtless Willie Schubert mouthed to members of a Coast Guard helicopter crew who plucked him and his dog Lucky from atop a house encircled by water in Pollocksville. It was not clear how long he had been stranded.

A day earlier, Wilmington’s entire population of 120,000 people was cut off by flooding. By midday Monday, authorities reopened a single unidentified road into the town, which stands on a peninsula. But it wasn’t clear if that the route would remain open as the Cape Fear River kept swelling. And officials did not say when other roads might be clear.

In some places, the rain finally stopped, and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. He urged residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of closed roads and catastrophic flooding that submerged entire communities.

“There’s too much going on,” he told a news conference.

About two dozen truckloads of military MREs and bottled water were delivered overnight to Wilmington, the state’s eighth-largest city, officials said.

The chairman of New Hanover County’s commissioners, Woody White, said three centers would open by Tuesday morning to begin distributing essentials to residents.

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