North Carolina’s 8th largest city is cut off from the rest of the world Monday as still-rising floodwaters engulf the state. Rescuers have brought some food and water to the city of nearly 120,000 people as the effects of Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm, continue to wreak havoc on the state.
As of Monday afternoon, around 450,000 homes and businesses in the state are without power. So far, more than 2,600 people and 300 animals have been rescued from flooded areas. Others still await rescue. Authorities have ordered an immediate evacuation for 7,500 people living near Cape Fear and Little Rivers.
So far, 20 fatalities have been reported in North and South Carolina, including a 1-year-old boy who was swept out of his mother’s arms in raging flood waters.
“This is a monumental disaster for North Carolina,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.
Meanwhile, workers inside Duke Energy Brunswick nuclear plant are also cut off from the rest of the world. Floodwaters all around the plant have made it impossible for those within to leave. The employees are not in any immediate danger.
There are currently 20 roads closed in Charlotte, NC, according to information provided by the Weather Channel. Further east in the state, almost 100 roads are completely underwater. In addition, about 60 miles of I-95 have been closed due to the flooding.
Wilmington has been hit by 20 feet of rain since Thursday. Most of the traffic lights and homes in the city are dark Monday as waters reach dangerous levels. Trucks from Fort Bragg managed to get through the closed roads on Monday to bring four days’ worth of food and water for 60,000 people, roughly half the city’s population.
One road into town is providing some access into Wilmington, according to the Kansas City Star. But it’s unknown how safe the road is or how long it will be accessible, as the nearby Cape Fear River continues to rise. Officials have no estimates on when the roads in Wilmington will be open again.
“At this time, things are moving as well as can be in the city,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told reporters.
The Charlotte Post and Courier reports that entire neighborhoods have been swallowed by rain and river waters. There are no reliable routes for travel within the city or out of it, as nearby I-40 is closed because many parts of the interstate are under water.
This is I-40 toward Wilmington. pic.twitter.com/2O5p1BUBTL
— Mandy Mitchell (@MandyWRAL) September 17, 2018
Around 80,000 people are without power in Wilmington as of Monday afternoon.
There are many downed power lines and trees blocking roads in Wilmington in addition to the water, making it even more difficult to estimate when the city may have access to the world outside again.