The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence
WILMINGTON, North Carolina (AP):
Hurricane Florence is still wearing out the Carolinas, where residents have endured an agonising 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. Roads to Wilmington, which has been cut off sporadically by Florence, are opening and closing as flood water rushes to the coast.
Florence is blamed for at least 37 deaths, including those of two women who drowned when a sheriff's van taking them to a mental health facility was swept off a road.
"I'm just ready for this to be over, to be honest," said Evan Jones, a college student who evacuated from Wilmington and doesn't know when he will get back. "I'm trying to get it all out of my head."
With the remnants of Florence finally out to sea and skies bright over rivers still swelling with muddy water, President Donald Trump visited the disaster zone, riding through soggy neighbourhoods and helping pass out warm meals at a church.
"America grieves with you and our hearts break for you. God bless you," Trump said during a briefing in Havelock, North Carolina.
There wasn't any presidential fanfare 120 miles (190 kilometres) away in Fayetteville. There, Roberta and Joseph Keithley had been sleeping on cots set up in a school classroom since last Friday. They still didn't know if their home was ruined.
"It's getting a little frustrating, but you have to deal with it and roll with the punches," said Roberta Keithley, 73. "It's just another hurdle to get over in life."
To the south, daybreak brought a return of flood waters to Nichols, South Carolina, which also was inundated by Hurricane Matthew two years ago. The flooding from Florence had subsided, only to get worse again.
Access improved at least temporarily to Wilmington, a North Carolina port city of 120,000 that has been isolated for days by high water. But the state said in a Tweet late Wednesday: "No safe, stable and reliable route currently exists for the public to get to and from Wilmington."