While crests will continue to work downstream along the major rivers in the eastern part of the Carolinas into next week, some unprotected areas may stay flooded until the end of September or early October.
The slow-moving natural disaster will continue to unfold in the coming days following up to 3 feet of rain that fell earlier in September from Florence.
Wilmington, North Carolina, and some other communities near the coast are bracing for another surge of high water this weekend. Levels along the Cape Fear River at Wilmington may approach record levels.
Please do not return to our southern coastal areas with power still out, traffic signals not operational, a majority of roads flooded, and rivers still rising. This is what roads look like that were open yesterday. pic.twitter.com/pFONFt7Rar
— MG(R) Jim Trogdon PE (@NCDOT_Trogdon) September 21, 2018
It has taken this long for runoff from the torrential rain that fell on the Carolina Midlands to reach the coast. Since many of the rivers near the coast are slow moving, meandering and tidal in nature, conditions will be worse at times of high tide this weekend.
Portions of rivers near the coast that may take until early next week to crest include the Waccamaw and lower Neuse.
Other portions of the Cape Fear, as well as the Pee Dee and Neuse, that are farther upstream will begin to recede this weekend.
Floodwaters breach dam containing a large lake at N.C. power plant, and it's possible coal ash from adjacent dump is flowing into the Cape Fear River, Duke Energy says. https://t.co/p0yOjGTcI1
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 21, 2018
In Lumberton, North Carolina, the Lumber River will crest this weekend and slowly recede there after. However, the level may remain at major flood stage into the end of next week.
This Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 photo shows rising flood waters in the Pee Dee area in Marion County, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
As the waters recede, the scope of the damage will be revealed. However, it may take many days and weeks for loss of life and the full scope of the damage to be accessed.
Because of the high levels of water on the rivers, regardless of recent, current or near-future crest, it may take many additional days for officials to declare roads that were under water for days to be safe.
Support under area roads and bridges may have been weakened, undermined or washed away.
People should not attempt to drive around barriers that have been in place for this reason, even though the road in that vicinity may appear to be in good shape.
Some of the rivers near the coast may remain out of their banks until early October, which means that some farmland and small communities may be inundated for two weeks or more after the initial flood.