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Nearly three dozen dead from Florence; 300K without power

By Sommer Brokaw 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. 18 (UPI) -- The death toll related to Hurricane Florence rose to 32 people Tuesday as residents near the Cape Fear River in North Carolina prepared for historic flooding later this week.

Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett told CNN that some 12,000 were "in harm's way" of the river, which was expected to crest up to 62 feet midday Wednesday. The river stood at more than 60 feet Tuesday afternoon.

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Hewett said the floodwater were expected to inundate the city's downtown.

"This would come only two years after Hurricane Matthew, from which our community is still recovering," he told the Fayetteville Observer on Monday. "That thought alone is troubling to the city of Fayetteville and our citizens."

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Forecasters said it could take two weeks for floodwaters to recede in North and South Carolina.

The death toll includes 25 people in North Carolina, six in South Carolina and one in Virginia, officials said. The deaths include three young children, the Charlotte Observer reported.

The deaths from Florence have been caused by drowning, electrocution, downed trees or carbon monoxide poisoning.

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

Record flooding has hit parts of the Carolinas and rival that caused by Hurricane Matthew two years ago and Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the National Weather Service reported.

"Although rainfall from Florence has ended, accumulations of 10 to 25 plus inches of rain has caused excessive runoff and many towns and communities are flooded," the NWS said. "Many roads are impassable, barricaded, or washed away."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that some 1,200 roads in his state were shut down due to flooding and 16 rivers are at major flood level. Emergency workers have rescued 2,200 people and 578 animals, and 10,000 people sought refuge in public shelters.

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Hundreds of thousands of homes are also still without electricity.

By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 300,000 customers did not have power restored -- mostly in southeast North Carolina. The blackouts have affected another 3,000 in South Carolina.

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