LOCAL UPDATE: The latest National Weather Service forecast for the Dan River is not nearly as dire as first predicted. The Dan is still expected to crest at 8 1/2 feet above flood stage Tuesday afternoon, just touching the level considered “major”. But that is well below initial forecasts that suggested the river would approach record flood levels. The Roanoke River appears to be near its expected high point, and it is forecast to recede overnight and into tomorrow. The river is about a foot and a half above flood stage, causing flooding to parts of the greenway but at last report, not impacting any homes or businesses. The National Weather Service has dramatically lowered its forecast for the New River in Radford. The latest projection calls for it to reach its high point early tomorrow about a half foot above flood stage.
Here is the latest regional radar from WDBJ7:
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The river seethed a quarter-mile away, bulging from its banks, so the patrol cars circled the neighborhood three times.
“Get out now,” a voice boomed from a bullhorn. “This is an emergency.”
Waheeda Reese and her 14-year-old daughter, Anissa, were inside watching news reports about drowned towns all over the state and rain that hadn’t yet stopped.
“All that water is going to come this way,” Anissa said, trying to convince her mother it was time to leave. The city had taped a mandatory evacuation notice to their front door, and a friend in the fire department had called to warn: “I don’t want to have to come pick you up in a boat.”
They still had 22 hours until a deadline to go, and Waheeda wanted to stay. She pointed out the window and said, wishfully, “Look, I think the rain’s letting up.”
As the days drag on, Hurricane Florence has taken this deceptive turn: The violent winds that rattled shingles off houses and tore down trees have subsided, and the pounding rain has eased, lulling many in the storm’s path into believing they’ve already weathered the worst of it — even as rivers quietly churn and continue to rise.
More than 7,000 people were ordered to evacuate by Sunday afternoon. But many, weary of a storm that’s lingered on and on, did their own rough calculus of the odds and decided to stay.
As the Cape Fear River swelled, rescue teams trudged along its banks, pleading with people to get out of its way. Police officers went door to door. The mayor of Fayetteville presented the problem in the starkest of terms: Evacuate or notify your legal next of kin.
Military trucks in rural corners of the county barreled down dirt roads quickly becoming mud pits. “Please go,” soldiers asked stubborn residents along the massive river that curls downstream through small towns, farms and rural mobile home parks and into the city of Fayetteville, where the Reeses live in a subdivision that butts up against the bank.
Anissa’s friend down the street was evacuating with his family and knocked on her door, begging her and her mother to come. The Reeses had packed their things just in case, tucking important documents in a water-tight bag. They stacked chairs on top of tables and moved all the family photos upstairs. Then they waited to see what would happen.
A few miles away, a high-water rescue team comprising two dozen soldiers from Fort Bragg rested on cots in an arena — preparing for water to surge into neighborhoods and send residents climbing out windows and onto rooftops, a familiar scene since Florence made landfall Friday morning.
“I want to make sure those citizens realize the decisions they’re making,” said Lt. John Savage, who commands the team that knocked on doors to talk with those staying behind. “We have thorough conversations with them to let them know the gravity of the situation they’re in.”
Over the weekend, a military truck rolled down the mucky lane to Kevin Blades’ house 20 miles (32 kilometers) upstream from Fayetteville, near where the Cape Fear and Little rivers meet. Savage said there is particular concern about this area. Six horses were drinking from floodwater already pooling on the front lawn. Power had been out for days. The dirt road to the house was so soggy, the truck got stuck in the mud and Blades and a neighbor had to tow it out.
Blades informed the soldiers he planned to stay anyway and not to worry because he had an escape plan in mind. “If I have to,” he said, “I’ll ride the horses out of here.”
The soldiers left, the Blades played cards, the rain poured on, and the river rose.