More than 100 people are waiting to be rescued from homes and vehicles Friday morning in New Bern, N.C., after Hurricane Florence brought severe flooding to the area. Officials say more than 100 people have already been rescued in the area overnight.
There are five swift water rescue teams working in New Bern, assisted by the Cajun Navy volunteer rescue group, Gene Hodges, assistant county manager with Craven County government, tells NPR’s Brakkton Booker.
“We’re working as hard as we can,” Hodges says. Rescuers are methodically working neighborhoods, some with multiple calls.
Craven County Emergency Services has reported impassible roads due to flooding; downed power lines; and trees on cars.
New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday.
Sarah Risty-Davis, who was born and raised in New Bern, told NPR’s Morning Edition that she saw high floodwaters until the early morning but that the water has mostly receded in her neighborhood. She plans to continue to ride out the storm. If the water starts to rise again, she says, she’ll head upstairs and wait for it to recede again.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says so far there have been no fatalities in the state:
Gov. Cooper told Morning Edition that he expects flooding could get worse as more rain falls and that the state’s No. 1 mission right now is “working very hard to save lives.”
Officials are advising people who are stranded to move up to their attics or other high ground if possible.
Craven County public information officer Amber Parker says the storm surge has caused flooding in some downtown New Bern businesses, and Union Park is underwater.
Water also rushed into the county’s emergency operations center. “We have an old jail building, and there was a sally port where vehicles could drive down into it,” she says. “And it’s basically a big hole and water did go into that hole, but we are safe in this facility.”
The area is also experiencing some power outages. “You never know where there are active downed power lines that could cause an electric situation,” Parker says. “We just want people to be very careful.”
Parker says water levels in some areas of Craven County are already higher than levels from Hurricane Irene.
Hodges expects the rescue operation will be “going on for quite a while.”