“Two adults, two children.” The call arrived after Sgt. Nick Muhar’s unit had already rescued more than 80 people threatened by Hurricane Florence.
The North Carolina National Guard truck pulled out of the New Bern, N.C., fire station and sped through flooded streets. The cab was heated like a sauna to keep the windshield from fogging up. A can of chewing tobacco rested on the dashboard.
Muhar’s truck arrived at a brick apartment building where the overflowing Neuse River swamped a playground and lapped at front doors. Inside, a family scrambled to gather their belongings. The electricity had gone out, and a knee-high waterline was etched into the wall.
WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington. A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house. The father was transported to NHRMC with injuries. https://t.co/FC5PAhuxig
Hurricane Florence drove Edwin Sanchez, 33, from his apartment and job in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he’s a housekeeper for an oceanfront resort, to a shelter at an elementary school on Friday.
He moved here seven months ago after Hurricane Maria destroyed his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his livelihood as a chef and bartender. The month before, Hurricane Irma drove his ex-wife to leave the island for Pennsylvania with their 10-year-old daughter, Jenniflyan.
He had called them the day before to say he was subject to mandatory evacuation and was at the shelter, which had already filled, 480 people hoping their homes would survive storm surge and inland flooding. More evacuees showed up Friday, and staff sent them to a handful of other nearby shelters, which were also rapidly filling.
In the town of Washington, N.C., flood waters swamped an intersection early Friday, making it impassable for everyone except a few with pickup trucks.
The metal roof of a warehouse across the street was shredded by the wind. A neighborhood grocery store flooded, costing the owner some of his produce. At a used car lot on the corner, two cars were damaged as the water rose.
“I can live with [losing] two cars,” said the owner, Steve Griffin, 48, who lives nearby in Bath. “I can’t live with many more.”