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'We Know We're Cut Off': Florence Flooding Strands Wilmington, North Carolina

Florence is now a tropical depression, but the storm’s danger is far from over. The port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, was cut off Monday because of rising floodwaters.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson heard from Wilmington resident Leslie Hudson as she was waiting in line for gas.

Interview Highlights

On attempting to find gas in Wilmington

"I got up this morning looking for gas for our generator. We have no power, and I’m at Costco, which I understand from GasBuddy is the only place in Wilmington that currently has gas, and the line goes out the gas station, it winds through the Costco parking lot, and it goes around the block, down a couple streets. So yeah, it’s going to be a long line. People are just sort of camping out.

“But what’s great, honestly, is I, for the first time ever in a couple days, have cell service, so it’s been really great to be able to just find out what’s going on."

On whether she thinks she could leave the city

"Honestly, I don’t know. I mean, that’s the thing, we haven’t had any data. The worst part in many ways is just being really isolated. People here have no idea what’s going on in some areas, because I have no data service near our house. I think, I probably could leave. I just don’t think I’d get back in."

On whether her house was damaged, and the extent of damages to other parts of the city

"We were really, really lucky. Our neighborhood was hard hit. We are surrounded by pine trees, and the Carolina pines just danced around and didn’t really fall. We had minor damage but nothing terrible.

"What was more scary was Saturday night, early Sunday morning, there were flash flood warnings and tornadoes. Two tornadoes came through town, one pretty close to us, and pictures came off the walls, and then we had some flooding in the front of our house. The water was up to the top of our mailboxes. It receded, but that was pretty terrifying. Our house is not in a flood zone. In fact, it’s supposed to be dry even at Category 4, but we had floodwaters actually just following the storm."

On conditions in Wilmington now

"It feels like we’re out of danger. I mean, we’re all concerned about rain and that it will continue to come, but we are a 'sunny day’ flood area in Wilmington.

"We see the floods after they come down from inside the state, so the Cape Fear River will crest a lot later than inside of the internal parts of North Carolina, so I think people closer to the river are not out of danger.

"The biggest issue is just surviving, because we know we’re cut off. There’s no gas. Stores are reopening, and the people running the stores are amazing. It’s a little scary to go in. They have sheriffs parked around the stores to make sure people leave when they’re supposed to. The shelves are not terribly supplied, but there is food. Harris Teeters are open all over town, and hardware stores are open.

"We were well stocked, and my husband actually owns a roofing company, so he’s been running around trying to help people get their roofs in shape and making sure all his jobs are secure.

"A generator’s running on our porch. There’s a plug that comes off that, so we charge it off the generator. But that’s not an option for everybody, so we’re really lucky."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A man tries to cross a flooded street at the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Chuck Burton/AP)
A man tries to cross a flooded street at the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Chuck Burton/AP)

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