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Avoid I-95: Drivers told to ‘go around’ North Carolina

RALEIGH -- Tropical Storm Florence's relentless rain is flooding parts of the Carolinas and promises even more for days, officials said Saturday, a day after it landed as a hurricane and left at least thirteen people dead -- including a baby.

The issues prompted North Carolina to tell drivers coming down Interstate 95 from Virginia to go around -- the entire state.

NCDOT asked drivers to detour using Interstate 64 West in Virginia to Interstate 81 south, to Interstate 75 south in Tennessee to Interstate 16 east in Georgia back to Interstate 95.

"This is an extremely long detour, but it is the detour that offers the lowest risk of flooding at this time," NCDOT officials warned. "Please note those conditions can change as Hurricane Florence moves across the southern North Carolina border and begins to impact South Carolina."

"The one thing I want to prevent is thousands of people stranded on our interstates or US routes," said state Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdan.

WFMY reported that major road closures in eastern North Carolina include:

  • I-95 South is closed from Exit 65 in Godwin to Exit 464 in Rocky Mount and in Lumberton from mile marker 19 to Exit 22.
  • I-40 Closed between Wilmington and Exit 390 (US 117) in Burgaw.

The station posted video of a stretch of I-95 in Lumberton flooded Sunday morning. Officials said that portion of the interstate could remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 26.

A 16-mile stretch of the highway closed Saturday because of flooding.

"This is an extremely long detour, but it is the detour that offers the lowest risk of flooding at this time," NCDOT officials warned. "Please note those conditions can change as Hurricane Florence moves across the southern North Carolina border and begins to impact South Carolina."

Officials said the flooding was only just starting.

"The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it ... made landfall 24 hours ago," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday morning. "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns."

On Sunday officials said the state was still dealing with rain from the storm.

"Heads up, central NC. The storm's effects are not over and will impact you today into tonight. Be prepared for flash flooding" NC DOT officials posted.

Please SHARE! Portions of Interstate 95 in North Carolina remain closed on Sunday. Drivers are being told to "go around" the state: http://via.wtvr.com/jXbKT

These photos were taken along I-95 in Lumberton where officials said the interstate could remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 26.

"Heads up, central NC. The storm's effects are not over and will impact you today into tonight," NC DOT officials warned. "Be prepared for flash flooding."

The storm's center is crawling over South Carolina, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina -- setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.

Serious flooding is expected throughout the two states, and some rivers may not crest for another three to five days.

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 796,000 customers in that state and South Carolina.

It has trapped people in flooded homes, with citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state joining local emergency professionals to try to bring them to safety.