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Multiple people rescued, 150 awaiting help as floodwaters rise in New Bern area

The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC) logo The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC) 9/14/2018 By Tammy Grubb, The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.
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Video by CBS

Sept. 14--NEW BERN -- Despite a mandatory evacuation ordered Tuesday, Craven County emergency crews reported rescuing multiple residents from Hurricane Florence floodwaters through the early morning Friday.

New Bern officials reported on Twitter that about 150 people were waiting to be rescued, and two Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were in the area.

"More are on the way to help us," officials tweeted. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU."

The rescues began around 4 p.m. Thursday, Craven County spokeswoman Amber Parker said.

Parker didn't know how many people had been rescued so far, but said emergency crews were doing their best to reach areas that were "just too dangerous" because of extreme flooding, storm surges, and winds of 40 mph to 50 mph.

Most of the swift-water rescues were being made in areas along the Neuse River, including portions of New Bern, Fairfield Harbour, Adams Creek and Township 7, Parker said.

Local officials were seeing at least 8 inches of water across Adams Creek Road by 11 a.m. Thursday, Parker said. Water levels by early Friday morning already had exceeded what the area got from Hurricane Irene in 2011, she said. The National Hurricane Center was reporting 10.1 feet of inundation in New Bern.

Gallery by photo services

Parker said the water in places had topped mailboxes, and in low-lying places filled the first and second floors of homes.

"This storm has been hovering over us for a while, and we expect it to continue to hover over us," she said. "Lots of water, lots of wind, lots of storm surge."

Parker noted that 839 people had sought to stay at one of five inland shelters in Craven County. Just more than a hundred people had been evacuated to a shelter in Sanford, and others were directed to a mega-shelter at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, she said.

"The most important thing we need right now is for people to shelter in place and stay off the roads, to watch out for dangerous conditions, including downed power lines, and flooding water," she said. "If water gets into people's homes, we need them to call our emergency management line at 252-636-6608."

A map sent out by the City of New Bern showed just how widespread the flooding had become. The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division reported a 10-foot high storm surge above the normal water level at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal in Havelock, which is located in Craven County.

"Interactive map showing the high water areas in New Bern so far. Unfortunately this will get worse," the city's account tweeted around 9 p.m.

New Bern sits at the intersection of the Neuse and Trent rivers. The map showed the Trent River had overflowed as well. The Neuse flows into the Pamlico Sound, which is separated from the Atlantic by the Outer Banks.

The city said more than 17,000 customers were without power Thursday night. WCTI, New Bern's ABC affiliate, was forced to evacuate its building Thursday night, a development it noted while giving updates on the weather.

Staff writer Brian Murphy contributed to this story.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926; @TammyGrubb

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