Hurricane Florence has left the city of Wilmington, North Carolina an island that is now shut off from the rest of the world. It is impossible to get into or out of the city now due to flooding that has closed interstates as well as secondary roads. The airport has been closed up since Wednesday.
Wilmington is not even accessible by sea because the Port of Wilmington on Cape Fear River is closed. The city will most likely stay marooned for at least another day, because it is still raining. It has been raining nearly constantly for days.
The rivers are still rising, widespread flooding is expected, and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said the storm has “never been more dangerous.” Officials said at least 450 people were rescued from floodwaters in the Wilmington area.
One official issued a blunt warning to anyone looking to travel to Wilmington: “Do not come here,” said Woody White, chairman of the board of commissioners of New Hanover County. “There’s no access to Wilmington.”
Local authorities are facing the prospect of catastrophic flooding from the Cape Fear River and limited help from outside the city or its county of New Hanover. They are visibly nervous about the situation.
“Every single road coming into the city or New Hanover County is impassable. The river has not crested and will not until possibly Tuesday,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo (D).
The local water utility, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, issued a dire warning Sunday: Without an influx of diesel and gasoline, it would run out of fuel for its water-treatment plant, cutting off water for fire suppression, for the major regional hospital and drinking water. The county came through with enough fuel to keep the water-treatment plants and its pumps operating, but it underscores what days without power and outside help can do to a community.