SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Thousands of residents and homeowners fled the Coastal Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence with many expecting to be able to return a day after the storm passed — but nature has had other plans in mind. It has been several days since Florence made landfall near Wilmington and road conditions continue to deteriorate as flood waters rise, washing out roads.
Downed trees, as well as power lines, also pose a threat to would-be motorists attempting to head back into town to check the status of their homes. The North Carolina Department of Transportation, along with other state and local authorities are urging residents who have evacuated to stay put until the all clear is given — when that will happen is still unknown.
Folks, we understand there are concerns about property & family across NC. Due to prolonged rainfall, many rivers haven’t yet crested, making for unpredictable and dangerous road conditions. Stay home, help responders work freely, don’t put yourself at risk. #FlorenceNC pic.twitter.com/8NGBXWKVFp
— NCDOT (@NCDOT) September 16, 2018
Although the weather might have cleared up a little bit, rivers are still on the rise throughout the state with peak water levels in some places not happening until Tuesday.
“The N.C. Department of Transportation continues to urge drivers to stay off the roads, as the rains from Florence continue and conditions worsen by the hour. As of Sunday afternoon at 4:30, nearly 700 road closures across the state,” according to an NCDOT press release.
Drivers who have attempted to return to Wilmington and the region from places like Raleigh have been met with rising flood waters and no way into town. Interstate 40 has been closed indefinitely in the area near Wallace; portions of I-95 have also been closed.
The NCDOT stated that while many are relying on GPS navigation units, these systems are actually routing people into dangerous situations.
“Due to flooding in southern and eastern NC and potential landslides in the west, NCDOT advises that motorists not travel through NC. Several sections of I-95 and I-40 are flooded. Travel should be completely avoided in areas south of US 64 and east of I-73/I-74. As the situation is rapidly changing NCDOT is doing our best to report these closures but recognizes that we are not yet aware of all closures, therefore we advise not to travel in these areas. Flooding is beginning to affect travel in central North Carolina. GPS systems are routing users into areas NCDOT is not recommending for travel,” according to the NCDOT.
Drivers can use the NCDOT website to check for road closures, but even then, closed roads might not be listed as conditions change.
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.P@Localvoicemedia.com