1 of 2 | President Donald Trump makes remarks to the press as he departs the White House, Washington, DC, for a day trip to North Carolina to view Hurricane Florence damage, September 19, 2018. Trump will be briefed on rescue and recovery efforts after catastrophic flooding and numerous deaths. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 19 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump visited the Carolinas Wednesday to survey Hurricane Florence's damage as the storm's death toll rose to 37 across three states.
Three deaths in the Carolinas were reported overnight, raising the death toll to 37 -- including fatalities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Two female mental health patients died Tuesday in South Carolina after the law enforcement van they were in ran off the road near flood waters in Marion County. Deputies in the van, who tried to save the patients but couldn't open a door, were rescued. A 46-year-old was killed in Rutherford County, N.C., after a tree fell on her car, officials said.
The victims' names have not been released.
Trump arrived in eastern North Carolina Wednesday morning to survey the damage.
While Trump was in Cherry Point, N.C., Gov. Roy Cooper told him his state "took a gut punch" from Florence.
Cooper described Florence as "a storm like no other."
"Our people are still reeling," Cooper said. "We have lost 27 lives officially so far, and more are under investigation. We mourn their loss," he said, adding that farmers lost crops, businesses are shuttered, and people lost homes ... We are beginning the process of getting our feet under us, Mr. President."
Trump spoke at a briefing in a hangar at Marine Corps Air Force Station in Cherry Point earlier Wednesday. He thanked officials, first responders, and electrical workers who have restored power to more than 1.2 million customers in North Carolina. As of Wednesday morning, there were 197,463 power outages left statewide.
"To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you and our hearts break for you. God bless you. We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We are with you all the way," he added. "To all of those impacted by this terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help you will recover."
Four senators from the Carolinas came with Trump from the District of Columbia on the visit including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, formerly a congressman from South Carolina, also joined him.
Cooper urged residents Tuesday not to return to their homes, saying flooding could still get worse.
"I know it was hard to leave home, and it is even harder to wait and wonder whether you even have a home to go back to," Cooper said, adding that 16 rivers statewide were still at major flood state and more than 1,100 roads were closed.
Florence dumped more than 8 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina over five days, unofficial radar-estimates from the National Weather Service's Raleigh, N.C., office show. The highest localized estimate was in Wilmington, where 30 to 50 inches likely fell.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump would visit South Carolina later Wednesday.
In South Carolina, officials in Conway said flood waters won't reach their highest levels until next week.
"We are hearing that the water may not crest until Tuesday or Wednesday. It won't reach the highest model until next week," city spokesperson Taylor Newell said.
Trump is scheduled to return to the White House by 6:15 p.m.
Hurricane Florence strikes Carolinas
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