Historic Floodwaters Inundate the Carolinas (in Photos) - Pacific Standard

Historic Floodwaters Inundate the Carolinas (in Photos)

Though the storm has passed, flooding and evacuations continue as rivers swell.
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As Hurricane Florence moved agonizingly slowly over both Carolinas, the storm dropped trillions of gallons of water, inundating the two states with unprecedented floods. On Thursday, after the hurricane had dissipated, the National Weather Service called the deluge of rainfall a "1,000-year" event. New flood warnings continue to be issued as rivers swell and the wave of water makes its way toward the coast.

As Pacific Standard has reported extensively, the floods have brought more dangers than just fast-moving waters: Open-air hog waste lagoons in floodplains and coal ash dumps have created serious toxic hazards.

As the floods wreak havoc on North and South Carolina, some are calling for hurricane threat warnings to be updated. Even though Florence only clocked in at a Category 1 storm when it made landfall, the category ratings system (known as the Saffir-Simpson scale) considers wind speed as a hurricane's greatest danger. In the case of Florence, rainfall proved the true hazard. One researcher told the Washington Post that, if Florence had been evaluated holistically, its threat could have been rated a Category 4 or even 5. As of Friday, the death toll stood at 42, but was expected to rise. Millions of animals have also died.

The striking contrast between Florence's categorization and the damage it caused (and continues to cause) became clear as interstates turned into rivers and rooftops become islands.

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Members of New York Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One work in an area flooded with waters from the Little River as it crests from the rains caused by Hurricane Florence as it passed through the area on September 18th, 2018, in Spring Lake, North Carolina.

Members of New York Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One work in an area flooded with waters from the Little River as it crests from the rains caused by Hurricane Florence as it passed through the area on September 18th, 2018, in Spring Lake, North Carolina.

Floodwaters flow over train tracks on September 17th, 2018, in Dillon, South Carolina. Many rivers in the Carolinas were approaching record flood stages due to Hurricane Florence as their levels continued to rise through the week.

Floodwaters flow over train tracks on September 17th, 2018, in Dillon, South Carolina. Many rivers in the Carolinas were approaching record flood stages due to Hurricane Florence as their levels continued to rise through the week.

Floodwaters isolate homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence on September 19th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Floodwaters isolate homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence on September 19th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Floodwaters surround a business on September 20th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Floodwaters surround a business on September 20th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Floodwaters engulf a home on September 20th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Floodwaters engulf a home on September 20th, 2018, in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Billy Hardee removes valuables from his home as floodwater from Hurricane Florence rises at Aberdeen Country Club on September 20th, 2018, in Longs, South Carolina.

Billy Hardee removes valuables from his home as floodwater from Hurricane Florence rises at Aberdeen Country Club on September 20th, 2018, in Longs, South Carolina.

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