Florence death toll climbs to 37; Trump visits stricken area

Florence death toll climbs to 37; Trump visits stricken area

The POTUS thought it would be completely fine to make a joke to a victim of Hurricane Florence, which left heavy flood damage in North Carolina.

"Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors to reach the individuals inside the van", the police statement said, according to the Greenville News.

The latest victims in SC were identified as Wendy Wenton, 45, and Nicolette Green, 43, by the Marion County Coroner, US media report.

"I know it was hard to leave home, and it is even harder to wait and wonder whether you even have a home to go back to", Gov. Roy Cooper said as officials began distributing supplies to thousands of residents of Wilmington, population 120,000. The flooding from Florence had subsided, only to get worse again. "I don't have time to think". Roads remained unsafe, and some were still being closed as swollen rivers emptied toward the ocean.

In Lumberton, where the Lumber River still covered parts of town, water was deep enough that vehicles passing by on streets sent wakes into partially submerged homes, businesses and a church.

Some of those who left shelters may have been headed toward the coast on USA 421, where a long line of cars, utility crews and trucks loaded with generators sat in a traffic jam.

Speaking directly to families in North Carolina, the president offered his support.

In South Carolina, two women died on Tuesday evening (Wednesday NZT) after a van taking the mental health patients from one facility to another was overtaken by rising floodwaters near the Little Pee Dee River, authorities said.

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A high water team eventually rescued the two deputies who were escorting them.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", Sheriff Phillip Thompson told the Greenville News. Preliminary estimates say the storm did $22 billion in damage across the region, which would put Florence among the top 10 costliest storms in US history.

North Carolina's farmers, meanwhile, are beginning to count their losses.

President Donald Trump is pledging to help the people affected by Hurricane Florence as he arrives in North Carolina to survey damage wrought by the powerful storm.

Association CEO Graham Boyd said about 40 per cent of the crop was still in the field when the storm hit.

The president met Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long on the ground in North Carolina.

Officials previously had estimated that about 1.7 million chickens had drowned and that the number of potential hog deaths was unknown. Farmers are also concerned about cotton, sweet potatoes, peanuts and corn, but swamped roads and fields have made it hard to assess the damage. The flooding has caused 21 hog "lagoons", which store manure from pig farms, to overflow, creating a risk the standing water will be contaminated with bacteria like salmonella, according to the state's Department of Environmental Quality.

He asked if everyone was OK, then said it was "going to be OK".

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