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Florence: Death toll rises to 25, N.C. roads closed as more rain falls

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes
Hurricane Florence strikes Carolinas
Ignacio (L) and Sylvia Bautista hold hands after checking out their property following Hurricane Florence, now tropical depression on Wednesday in Beulaville, N.C. Florence, is continuing to dump rain on North and South Carolina and the Cape Fear River Valley and other rivers will rise breaking record flood levels. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Hurricane Florence has come and gone, but it will take time for the coastal Carolinas to recover from severe flooding and damage that has killed at least 25.

Florence arrived early Friday as a Category 1 storm. Authorities said Monday the death toll climbed to 25. Most died in North Carolina from falling trees and other debris, and an elderly couple in South Carolina died of carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator in their home.

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A 1-year-old boy named Kaiden Lee-Welch was also one of the victims. Kaiden was swept away in a torrent on Sunday after his mother's car was trapped by floodwaters, the News & Observer reported.

There were at least four confirmed reports of tornadoes in the North Carolina counties of Wayne, Sampson and Wilson. No injuries were reported.

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The storm had weakened to a tropical depression, but was still inundating the region with rain on Monday.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, at least three cities in North Carolina -- Gurganus, Swansboro and Elizabethtown -- recorded more than 30 inches of rain since Thursday. And at least 22 other cities recorded more than 20 inches.

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The National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said 16 inches of rain fell over 12 hours on Sunday. Authorities have closed Interstate 40, a north-south highway through the city, along with 170 other roads.

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"There is no access to Wilmington," Woody White, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said.

River levels have risen statewide, with many nearing record flood levels, the Wilmington Star reported.

"Significant river flooding is still ongoing across parts of central and eastern North Carolina," the NWS said in a Monday morning advisory, adding that flash flooding and landslides could occur as more rain falls.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged Wilmington residents, most of whom evacuated the city of 120,000, to in stay in place until water levels recede.

"The threat of flooded roads keeps spreading," Cooper said. "We're working very hard to find routes to places that need help, and we don't need people out on the highway blocking those routes."

Officials are concerned about the integrity of dams in South Carolina. One in Cheraw State Park has breached its top and sides, Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks said. Several towns lie below the dam, which holds back a 350-acre lake.

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Curfews are in place in most North Carolina and South Carolina communities. President Donald Trump approved South Carolina's disaster declaration, the White House said Monday, and ordered federal involvement in recovery efforts.

Forecasters said the heavy rain is expected to dissipate by Tuesday and the remnants of Florence would move to the Northeast and coastal New England.

WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

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