Local Official Calls Situation 'Very Desperate,' People Trapped in Cars and on Roofs


As Hurricane Florence slowly approached the East Coast on Thursday, officials in New Bern, North Carolina, reported that roughly 150 residents were awaiting rescue.

Officials had warned for days of the possibility that the storm could bring catastrophic flooding to areas in its path. The threat prompted widespread mandatory and voluntary evacuations along the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas.

By Thursday evening, however, the window for evacuation had closed for many residents, including those trapped and awaiting rescue in New Bern. The Craven County city was placed under a mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday.

According to ABC News, officials tweeted that emergency response crews had already arrived and more were on the way to handle the crisis.

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“Currently ~150 awaiting rescue in New Bern,” the city said. “We have 2 out-of-state FEMA teams here for swift water rescue. More are on the way to help us. WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU.”

Assistant County Manager Gene Hodges said a total of five rescue teams were in the area and officials were busy scouring neighborhoods in search of locals in need of assistance.

“We’re working as hard as we can,” he said.

As NPR reported, there were already a number of obstacles reported in addition to rising flood waters. Some areas of New Bern were blocked due to fallen trees and power lines, officials said.

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Craven County Public Information Officer Amber Parker warned that the peripheral hazards associated with this storm might not be as obvious as flooded roads.

“You never know where there are active downed power lines that could cause an electric situation,” she said. “We just want people to be careful.”

Parker described some areas of the city as “very desperate,” adding that locals “can be trapped in water, in vehicles, on roofs.”

Local police provided some images of the toll Florence had taken as of Friday morning.

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WUNC-FM’s Jeff Tiberii cited Gov. Roy Cooper in a Friday morning tweet confirming that no hurricane-related deaths had been reported.

“We have learned a lot from previous storms that have hit NC,” Cooper said. “The planning and strategy in place is helping us right now. I know long-term recovery is an arduous process, with lots of bureaucracy and red tape.”

In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, the governor said that state authorities are “working very hard to save lives.”

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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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