Hundreds Still Stranded as Florence Batters North Carolina - 'It's Like a Bomb Has Gone Off'


As Florence slowly advances into South Carolina, residents in several coastal North Carolina areas are dealing with the aftermath of the massive storm.

According to ABC News, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said about 20,000 residents have been placed in a total of 157 storm shelters across the state.

He said flooding remains a concern, adding that the state will continue to update citizens on the areas experts project could experience dangerous high water levels.

“We are a hearty bunch,” Cooper said. “We are resilient. We can get through this. We’re going to work hard to make sure people have the resources they need to get through the storm.”

New Bern was especially hard hit by Florence’s early bands of wind and rain on Thursday.

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By Saturday morning, officials said emergency personnel had rescued about 300 people trapped in homes or elsewhere in the city. A local government update indicated that dozens remained trapped late Friday.

City leaders said there were “three rescue teams who are working around the clock to get into communities to retrieve people.”

Some of the residents impacted by the storm spoke to reporters about their ordeal.

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Despite a mandatory evacuation order, many New Bern residents opted to hunker down and wait out the hurricane.

Homebuilder George Zaytoun said he decided to stay put in anticipation of helping his neighbors rebuild after the storm passed. In an interview Friday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he said he was beginning to second-guess his choice.

“I think we kind of let our guards down,” he said. “In hindsight, yes, I would have probably gotten out of here.”

Though he said he took every precaution before battening down the hatches, Zaytoun said he was not prepared for the amount of water dumped on the city.

“It’s like a bomb has gone off here,” he said. “Everything around us in underwater.”

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New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw said the situation was “very, very dangerous” for those who remained in the community.

“It’s very unsafe,” he said Friday afternoon. “I immediately spoke with the police chief and we decided we need a 24-hour curfew.”

For those who are still waiting to be rescued in New Bern and beyond, Governor Cooper offered some encouragement and advice.

“As soon as it is safe, first responders will make sure they go and rescue people who need to be saved from this storm,” he said.

In the meantime, he urged locals to stay in their homes and “get to higher floors” in anticipation of a rescue effort.

The governor went on to reiterate the importance of taking evacuation orders seriously, explaining that “we would rather everybody leave so that we wouldn’t be faced with these situations.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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