The Latest: SC governor estimates losses at $1.2B
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Florence (all times local):
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says the state’s financial losses from Florence are estimated at more than $1.2 billion.
McMaster provided the damages estimates Thursday in a letter to the state’s congressional delegation.
Among the breakdowns included in McMaster’s letter is an estimated $125 million hit to South Carolina’s agriculture industry. The governor noted that some of the estimates were based on damage resulting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
McMaster has requested federal disaster-recovery funds be made available for 23 of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
He wrote the damage from Florence in the northeastern area of the state “will be catastrophic, surpassing anything recorded in modern history.”
Duke Energy has activated a high-level emergency alert at a retired coal-fired power plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, as floodwaters from the nearby Cape Fear River overtopped an earthen dike and inundated a large lake.
Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Thursday that the dam containing Sutton Lake appears stable and they are monitoring the situation with helicopters and drones to react to what was called “an evolving situation.”
The lake is a former cooling pond at the L.V. Sutton Power Station and is adjacent to three large coal ash dumps. A landfill at the site ruptured over the weekend, spilling enough material to fill 180 dump trucks. Coal ash contains arsenic, mercury and other toxic heavy metals.
A section of Interstate 95 in South Carolina has been closed because of flooding.
The Department of Public Safety said Wednesday evening that the highway was closed in both directions at the 175 mile marker because of high water levels at the bridges crossing the Great Pee Dee River. There are detours available for local traffic.
The decision to close the road comes less than 12 hours after the department had reopened a 9-mile (14-kilometer) stretch of the highway near the North Carolina state line, which had meant the entire highway was open in the state.
Hurricane Florence is still wearing out the Carolinas, where residents have endured an agonizing week of violent winds, torrential rain, widespread flooding, power outages and death.
Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.
Florence is blamed for at least 37 deaths. That includes those of two women who drowned when a sheriff’s van taking them to a mental health facility was swept off a road.
President Donald Trump visited North and South Carolina on Wednesday, saying the government will be there to help.
But evacuee and college student Evan Jones says he’s just ready for it all to be over. In his words: “I’m trying to get it all out of my head.”