FLORENCE AFTERMATH | BBQ part of relief package in North Carolina


WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Florence's lingering impact (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

A Missouri-based organization is bringing a traditional North Carolina staple to areas trying to recover from the former Hurricane Florence.

Operation BBQ Relief said in a statement Tuesday that it had deployed its group of barbecue enthusiasts to Wilmington and Fayetteville to support recovery efforts by providing hot meals to displaced residents and first responders.

The organization says the Wilmington and Fayetteville deployment locations are capable of producing up to 50,000 meals per day.

The organization was established in 2011 following a devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Since then, the organization has deployed to disasters including South Carolina flooding in 2016 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.


3:20 p.m.

Worried West Virginians got a reprieve when predictions of possible devastation didn't come to fruition from the remnants of Hurricane Florence.

Before the storm made landfall last week, forecasters said it could result in "life-threatening, catastrophic flooding rainfall" across the mountains of western North Carolina, western Virginia and eastern West Virginia.

Instead, the storm brought 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rain in much of West Virginia before moving out early Tuesday. The state is still recovering from June 2016 floods that killed 23 people statewide.

The Greenbrier County community of Rainelle had braced for the worst from Florence, even moving its fleet of trucks to higher ground in anticipation of the storm.


3:20 p.m.

Sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway have opened now that debris scattered by Florence has been cleared.

A statement from the National Park Service Tuesday said the stretch of parkway known as the "Asheville commuter zone" is now open from milepost 375.7 at Ox Creek Road just north of Asheville to the parkway's terminus at milepost 469 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The parkway in North Carolina is also open from milepost 290.8 at Green Hill Road to milepost 317.5 at U.S. Highway 221, including Linville Falls.

The park service said campgrounds in those sections will reopen at noon on Wednesday.


2:15 p.m.

NBA legend Michael Jordan, who played high school basketball in Wilmington, North Carolina —one of the areas devastated by Hurricane Florence— is donating $2 million to assist residents of the Carolinas.

The 55-year-old owner of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets is contributing $1 million each to the American Red Cross and the Foundation For The Carolinas' Hurricane Florence Response Fund.

In addition, more than 100 members of the Hornets organization will help pack disaster food boxes Friday at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. The disaster food boxes, which provide individual meals, will be shipped to Wilmington, N.C., Fayetteville, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and distributed to those who have been directly impacted by the hurricane. The goal is to deliver 5,000 food boxes.


2:15 p.m.

North Carolina emergency officials want to call in the Marines as a backup plan to transport vehicles and supplies to the Wilmington area in case two makeshift routes from the west become impassable by rising river waters.

Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said Tuesday that the state is asking the Marine Corps to make the MV Cape Ray container ship available. He says the ship is returning from a mission in Florida. Wilmington remains largely cut off from the rest of the state because of closed portions of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 74.

Trogdon says the ship could be made available as soon as Wednesday to take heavy vehicles and other supplies from the state's Morehead City port to the Wilmington port.

Trogdon also says a state ferry route connecting to the Wilmington side of the Cape Fear River is being reopened for first responders.

1:20 p.m.

North Carolina officials say even though the sun is shining in parts of the state, major flooding is continuing in the aftermath of Florence and is expected to worsen in some areas.

Gov. Roy Cooper says 16 rivers are at major flood stage Tuesday with an additional three forecast to peak Wednesday and Thursday.

He says he knows for many North Carolinians it feels like "a nightmare that just won't end."

About 10,000 people are in shelters across the state and around 343,000 are without power. Cooper says first responders have reported rescuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people and about 575 animals.

Officials say more than 1,100 roads are closed, 255 of those primary roads. The state's two major interstates, I-40 and I-95, are closed in many locations.

There have been 26 confirmed fatalities in North Carolina due to the storm.


1:20 p.m.

Authorities have opened two routes into the city of Wilmington, North Carolina, which for a time was completely cut off by floodwaters.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told a news conference Tuesday that two routes via Interstate 40 are now open.

But Saffo and New Hanover County commissioner Woody White are still asking people to still stay away because those routes could flood again later. They also warned that other routes are still dangerous and sinkholes are developing under some of the flooded roads.

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1 p.m.

Florence has claimed a 26th victim in North Carolina.

Keith Acree is a spokesman for North Carolina Emergency Management.

He said Tuesday that the 26th victim is a 71-year-old man who died Sunday when his car ran off North Carolina Highway 210 in Pender County and into floodwaters.

11 a.m.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Still stranded by Florence's epic floods days after the hurricane hit North Carolina, Wilmington residents lined up by the hundreds Tuesday for free food, water and tarps as officials struggled to open new routes to one of the state's largest cities.

The death toll from the storm rose to at least 32 in three states, with 25 fatalities in North Carolina, as remnants of the once-powerful Category 4 hurricane — now reduced to a rainy, windy mass of low pressure — dumped rain on the heavily populated Northeast.

In Wilmington, population 120,000, workers began handing out supplies using a system that resembled a fast-food restaurant drive-thru: Drivers pulled up to pallets lining a street, placed an order and left without having to get out.

Todd Tremain needed tarps to cover up spots where Florence's winds ripped shingles off his roof. "The roof is leaking, messing up the inside of the house," he said.

Others got a case of bottled water or military MREs, or field rations. An olive-green military forklift moved around huge pallets loaded with supplies.

Four days after Florence blew ashore and began unloading more than 2 feet of rain that paralyzed much of North Carolina, Wilmington was still virtually cut off from the rest of the state, with just one road tentatively open as a supply route. Officials said they will open roads as flooding recedes and downed trees and power lines are cleared away. It's not clear when that might happen.

Items have been brought into the city by big military trucks and helicopters, which also have been used to pluck hundreds of desperate people from atop homes and other structures.

"Thank you," a shirtless Willie Schubert mouthed to members of a Coast Guard helicopter crew who picked up him and his dog Lucky from atop a house encircled by water in Pollocksville on Monday. It wasn't clear how long he had been stranded.

The dead include a 1-year-old boy who was swept away after his mother drove into floodwaters and lost her grip on him. Authorities in Virginia said one person was dead after an apparent tornado.

The rain finally stopped and the sun peeked through on Monday, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. He urged residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of closed roads and floodwaters that submerged entire communities.

"There's too much going on," he said.

Utility crews from multiple states worked to restore power, and outages were down from a high of more than 900,000 to about 320,000 homes and businesses, nearly all in North Carolina.

Crews conducted about 700 rescues in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located. About half of all homes and businesses were without power Tuesday, a big improvement from a day earlier. Roads were being cleared and the landfill was open to accept storm refuse.

Mayor Bill Saffo said he was working with the governor's office to get more fuel into Wilmington.

"At this time, things are moving as well as can be in the city," he said.

Downgraded from a tropical depression, the deadly storm still had abundant rain and top winds around 25 mph (40 kph). Forecasters said states in the Northeast are in for as much as 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain before the system moves offshore again.

Food, water handouts set in isolated Wilmington

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — With one of North Carolina’s largest cities still mostly cut off by floodwaters from Hurricane Florence, officials prepared to begin distributing food, water and tarps to Wilmington residents as yet more people were rescued from submerged inland neighborhoods.

Workers will begin handing out supplies to stranded residents in the city of 120,000 people beginning Tuesday morning, county officials say.

One road was opened into Wilmington at least briefly, officials said, and items have been brought into the city by big military trucks and helicopters, which also have been used to pluck hundreds of harried people from atop homes and other structures.

“Thank you,” a shirtless Willie Schubert mouthed to members of a Coast Guard helicopter crew who picked up him and his dog Lucky from atop a house encircled by water in Pollocksville on Monday. It wasn’t clear how long he had been stranded.

The death toll from Florence rose to at least 32 in three states, with 25 fatalities in North Carolina, as remnants of the once-powerful Category 4 hurricane — now reduced to a rainy, windy mass of low pressure — speeded up toward the heavily populated Northeast.

The victims include a 1-year-old boy who was swept away after his mother drove into floodwaters and lost her grip on him while trying to get back to dry land in North Carolina. Authorities in Virginia said one person was dead after an apparent tornado.

The rain finally stopped and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. He urged residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of closed roads and catastrophic flooding that submerged entire communities.

“There’s too much going on,” he told a news conference.

Crews have conducted about 700 rescues in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located. More than 60 percent of homes and businesses were without power, authorities said. Roads are being cleared and the landfill is open to accept storm refuse.

Mayor Bill Saffo said he was working with the governor’s office to get more fuel into Wilmington.

“At this time, things are moving as well as can be in the city,” he said.

Compounding problems, downed power lines and broken trees crisscrossed many roads in Wilmington three days after Florence made landfall. The smell of broken pine trees wafted through damaged neighborhoods.

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