The Latest: Many South Carolina evacuees caught in gridlock

The Latest on the effects of Hurricane Florence. (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The biggest South Carolina city in the way of flooding from Hurricane Florence is in gridlock.

Rising water from the Waccamaw River and smaller creeks have started to close bridges around Conway, backing up traffic to the few roads left open.

Some drivers in Conway have reported it has taken three hours or more to make it across the city of 23,000 people.

Traffic is further snarled by a project on U.S. Highway 501 to build a wall to keep the river from overtopping a bridge that serves as the main link to Myrtle Beach.

State troopers are asking anyone who doesn’t need to drive in the area to stay home.

The gridlock is part of the lingering effects of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall last Friday.


2:10 p.m.

Benetta White, David Lloyd and their four children have had their fill of shelter life after being evacuated twice in the last week.

The Kelly, North Carolina residents first evacuated last Thursday as Hurricane Florence first made landfall. They returned this weekend, had their power turned back on and thought everything was fine.

But that changed last night when the Cape Fear River came rushing onto their property. They were given short notice to evacuate and had to slog through a foul-smelling soup to get to a neighbor’s pickup.

From there they went to the town’s fire department, and were taken out of town by an Army truck.

Now they’re in a shelter at West Bladen High School, sitting outside with no shoes as their clothes and boots dry off.


2:00 p.m.

While the numbers of people living without power or staying in shelters following Hurricane Florence continue to fall in North Carolina, road flooding remains stubbornly high.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that power outages are now down to about 56,000 homes and businesses in the state a week after Florence’s eye made landfall. And the shelter population —once over 20,000— is now down to 3,700.

Still, Cooper is asking displaced residents to resist the urge to go home if they know their region lacks electricity or other basic necessities. He also says major flooding continues and could cut off roads quickly.

There were more than 600 road closures Friday morning, including Interstates 40 and 95.


1:30 p.m.

Rescuers used helicopters, boats and high-wheeled military vehicles to evacuate about 100 people from a southeastern North Carolina county where high water caused by Hurricane Florence breached a levee and flooded a town.

The N.C. National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard “flying with night vision goggles, heroically saved lives,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at news conference Friday, describing what happened as the Cape Fear River flooded the town of Kelly in Bladen County

The mandatory evacuation issued Thursday for Kelly, population about 800, was the third for the town, said Bradley Kinlaw, the county’s director of emergency management.

In a phone interview Friday, Kinlaw estimated 100 people were evacuated Thursday night and that about 50 people remain in the town. He said fire department authorities and N.C. National Guardsmen were in the town Friday, trying to get people to leave.

The evacuations are part of the continuing effects of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall one week ago.


1:15 p.m.

Officials in Florence County, South Carolina, are ordering nearly 2,000 more people to leave their homes and get out of the way of the rising Lynches River.

Florence County emergency management officials issued a second order Friday after asking about 500 people near the river to leave earlier in the day.

The National Weather Service says the Lynches River could reach record flood levels late Saturday or early Sunday.

Emergency officials say it will be a close call if the river tops U.S. Highway 52, the main north-south highway through the county and its connection to Charleston. They also warn more evacuations are possible as forecasters get a better idea how high the river will get.

Florence County has opened several emergency shelters.

Tropical Storm Florence, which made landfall as a hurricane before being downgraded, battered the Carolinas for days, claimed dozens of lives and sent rivers to record or near record flood levels.


12:35 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says about 100 people were evacuated by boat and air after the Cape Fear River breached a levee and flooded a town.

Cooper said at a news conference Friday that the National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard “heroically saved lives” when they rescued the people in the town of Kelly in Bladen County on Thursday night.

The rescuers used night vision goggles during the rescue.

Cooper warned that flooding from Hurricane Florence will continue into next week and will continue to put lives at risk.

He says first responders “continue to show unflinching courage in the face of danger.”

Officials said 33 animals also were rescued.


12:35 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says a health care company has donated $500,000 to a fund created to help people in the state during disasters.

McMaster said Friday he hopes United Health Group’s generosity inspires other companies across the state to donate to the One SC Fund to help the recovery from Hurricane Florence’s floods.

McMaster also says while the sun is shining and the rain is over, the worst is still to come.

New evacuations were ordered in Florence County, and the Waccamaw River in Conway is predicted to set a record level Saturday and keep rising through next Tuesday.

The Little Pee Dee River and the Lumber River have started to drop near Nichols, where the whole town of 360 was under water for the second time in two years.


9:20 a.m.

Officials have ordered evacuations along the Lynches River in eastern South Carolina because of flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Florence County emergency management officials issued the order Friday morning for about 500 people along 58 roads and streets in the area.

The National Weather Service says the river could reach record flood levels late Saturday or early Sunday.

The county has opened emergency shelters in Florence, Lake City, Johnsonville and Coward.


8:30 a.m.

A ninth person has died in South Carolina because of Hurricane Florence.

The state public safety department said in a Twitter message Thursday evening that the body of an 81-year-old man was found in a pickup truck submerged in water in Dillon County.

Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins said the pickup ran off state Highway 57, crashed and ended up in the water. Corner Donnie Grimsley said Friday morning that he’s still working to contact the victim’s family before he releases the name.

Florence is blamed for at least 42 deaths in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Well over half of those killed were in vehicles.


12 a.m.

The crisis from Hurricane Florence is slowly moving to South Carolina along with the trillions of gallons of water dumped by the storm.

People in coastal Horry County and nearby areas had enough warning and certainty about where the water was going that hundreds loaded furniture from their homes into trucks and flatbeds to take to higher ground.

In North Carolina, many started returning to flooded homes as the rivers receded. They were met by silty mud on walls and floors, blown out windows and terrible odors.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster estimated his state has already suffered $1.2 billion in damage. He asked Congress for help.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state is still tallying its storm damage, but says it will be in the billions.

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