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Florence the week after: Thousands brace for more flooding

Florence the week after: Thousands brace for more flooding
Archie Sanders cuts plastic sheeting while building a temporary levee to hold back floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence near the Waccamaw River on Sept. 23, 2018, in Conway, S.C. (Sean Rayford / Getty Images)

Thousands of coastal residents remained on edge Sunday, told they may need to leave their homes because rivers are still rising more than a week after Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas.

About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, S.C., were told to be prepared to evacuate ahead of a “record event” of up to 10 feet of flooding expected from heavy rains dumped by Florence, county spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said.

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She said that flooding is expected to begin Tuesday near parts of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers and that people in potential flood zones should plan to leave their homes Monday.

The county's emergency management director, Sam Hodge, said in a video message posted online that authorities are closely watching river gauges and that law enforcement would be going door to door in any threatened areas.

“From boots on the ground to technology that we have, we are trying to be able to get the message out,” Hodge said, advising people that they don't need an official order to evacuate should they begin to feel unsafe.

In North Carolina, five river gauges were still at major flood stage and five others were at moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The Cape Fear River was expected to crest and remain at flood stage through the early part of the week, and parts of Interstates 95 and 40 are expected to remain underwater for an additional week or more.

The storm has claimed at least 43 lives since slamming into the coast Sept. 14.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said that eastern counties continue to see major flooding, including areas along the Black, Lumber, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.

He said residents who register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency can begin moving into hotels Monday. The program initially will be open to residents in nine counties and then will be expanded. A FEMA coordinator said about 69,000 people from North Carolina already have registered for assistance.

In Washington, meanwhile, Congress is starting to consider almost $1.7 billion in new money to aid recovery efforts from Florence. Lawmakers already are facing a deadline this week to fund the government before the start of the new budget year on Oct. 1, and members of Congress are expected to try to act on the disaster relief along with separate legislation to fund the government.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said the money would be available as grants to states to help rebuild housing and public works, and assist businesses as they recover from the storm. GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey called that “a first round” and said lawmakers are ready to act quickly if the federal disaster relief agency also needs more money.

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