Officials in North and South Carolina are warning residents that the danger of flooding is not over, more than a week after Hurricane Florence pummeled the area with wind and heavy rainfall, killing at least 43 people in the Carolinas and neighboring Virginia.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned Friday that “although the winds are gone and the rain is not falling, the water is still there and the worst is still to come.”
McMaster has estimated damage to his state to equal about $1.2 billion, calling it the worst disaster in the state’s modern history. He has asked U.S. lawmakers for a swift delivery of federal aid.
Florence dumped up to 91 centimeters of rain on parts of North Carolina, where many areas remain cut off by flooding. Access to the North Carolina port city of Wilmington, which was completely cut off by high water for days, has improved, but officials said they didn’t know when evacuees would be able to return home.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has announced it will not resume classes until October 1, after the storm damaged a number of buildings and rendered roads to the campus inaccessible.
The storm knocked out power to more than 2.1 million people in the southeastern U.S.
As floodwaters keep rising, so, too, are concerns over environmental and health dangers created by contaminated water. The state Department of Environmental Quality said flooding has caused several dozen hog waste lagoons in North Carolina to overflow, releasing contaminants into waterways.
North Carolina’s hog industry, among the nation’s largest, absorbed its biggest hit from floodwaters in nearly two decades, industry officials said.
North Carolina authorities said 5,500 hogs and nearly 3.5 million chickens were killed by the flooding, which could have damaged up to 57 million kilograms of tobacco worth as much as $350 million.
President Donald Trump declared parts of the Carolinas disaster areas last week, freeing up federal funds for recovery efforts.
Trump got a first-hand view of recovery efforts during a visit to the two states on Wednesday, when he said, “Unfortunately, the money will be a lot but it’s gonna come as fast as you need it.”