Many rivers throughout the state have been seen overflowing as Tropical Depression Florence makes its way through the state.
In Cumberland County, city officials said Sunday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has advised the Lake Upchurch owners to start releasing water in a controlled manner in order to prevent a catastrophic dam failure. The release will cause the downstream water level to rise an additional 6 to 8 inches.
As the water levels increase from the effects of Florence, residents are urged to monitor conditions and take appropriate action.
NC waters continue to rise
As hundreds of people were pulled from flooded homes, North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of a still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding.
Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecasters now warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring the most destructive round of flooding in North Carolina history.
Stream gauges across the region showed water levels rising steadily, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels: The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw, and the Pee Dee were all projected to burst their banks, possibly flooding nearby communities.
Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 100 miles from the North Carolina coast. The evacuation zone included parts of Fayetteville.
John Rose owns a furniture business with stores less than a mile from the river. Rain-soaked furniture workers helped him quickly empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall.
"It's the first time we've ever had to move anything like this," Rose said. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water."
MANDATORY EVACUATION in place one mile from the bank on either side of the Little River and the Cape Fear River! If you are in that area, LEAVE NOW!! #Florence #ReadyNC #ReadyFay pic.twitter.com/irZqnJYGHj— Fayetteville Police (@FayettevillePD) September 15, 2018
On U.S. Route 401 nearby, rain rose in ditches and around unharvested tobacco crops along the road. Ponds had begun to overflow, and creeks passing under the highway churned with muddy, brown water. Further along the Cape Fear River, grass and trees lining the banks were partly submerged, still well below a highway bridge crossing it.
"It's hard to believe it's going to get that high," says Elizabeth Machado, who came to the bridge to check on the river.
Fayetteville's city officials, meanwhile, got help from the Nebraska Task Force One search and rescue team to evacuate some 140 residents of an assisted living facility in Fayetteville to a safer location at a church.
Already, more than 2 feet of rain has fallen in places, and forecasters saying there could be an additional 1 feet before Sunday is out.
"I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them, you are risking your life," Gov. Roy Cooper said.
As of 11 p.m., Florence was centered about 40 miles east-southeast of Columbia, South Carolina, crawling west at 3 mph (6 kph) - not even as fast as a person walking. Its winds were down to 40 mph (75 kph).
In Goldsboro, North Carolina, home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, roads that frequently flood were already closed Saturday by rushing water. Dozens of electric repair trucks massed to respond to damage expected to hit central North Carolina as rainwater collected into rivers headed to the coast. Hundreds of thousands of outages have been reported.
A creek that feeds into the Neuse was rushing over a road near Phil Eubanks' home Saturday. Another creek backed up into their basement Friday, but based on past experience Eubanks and his wife think the worst is over for them.
"I didn't sleep last night. It was creeping up those steps" from the basement, said his jittery wife, Ellen. "It came up. It went down today. I think we're OK."
Watch: Family of evacuees seeks shelter in Harnett County
Hurricane Florence: How you can help the victims
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