Authorities warned rivers will continue to rise through the weekend in eastern North Carolina, the scene of some 2,600 rescues in recent days as the backwash of Hurricane Florence flows to the sea.
Wilmington, N.C., the city closest to the Sept. 14 landfall of Florence as a category 1 hurricane, remained virtually cut off as the Cape Fear River flooded across southeastern North Carolina. Storm runoff coming down river watersheds far inland flooded sections of I-95, and on Wednesday South Carolina officials closed part of the interstate highway as the Pee Dee River coursed over the roadway.
Coast Guard small boat and helicopter crews had rescued 1,100 people and more than 400 domestic animals by mid-week. Operations continue as some rivers are forecast to continue flooding into next week. At least 37 deaths were blamed on the storm.
On the coast, the port of Morehead City was reopened without restrictions Wednesday. All other North Carolina ports and inlets remained open with restrictions, as Coast Guard aids to navigation (ATON) teams assessed the local storm impacts, made repairs and recovered buoys that moved off station. Some 100 ATON discrepancies were reported after the storm and 24 corrected as of Wednesday, Coast Guard officials reported.