Florence death toll rises to 43 as floods wreak havoc in Carolinas

The death toll has now risen to 43 dead in the aftermath of former Hurricane Florence, authorities said.

There are now 32 confirmed deaths in North Carolina, a statement released by Gov. Roy Cooper's office said Friday. Other deaths were reported earlier in South Carolina and Virginia.

Cooper’s statement said that in the past week, first responders and emergency teams have conducted nearly 5,000 rescues in storm-ravaged areas.

The governor praised the work of the first responders, saying they have evacuated people from rising floodwaters and "continue to show unflinching courage in the face of danger."

Meanwhile, about 56,000 homes and business remained without electrical power as of Friday afternoon.

Cooper said North Carolina’s storm damage will be in the billions of dollars, but there was no way to make a more accurate estimate while flooding continues.

“As I’ve traveled around the state surveying damage and meeting with people who have lost everything, it’s clear that the destruction in eastern North Carolina is historic,” Cooper said in a Thursday statement obtained by the News & Observer of Raleigh. “Now is the time to come together and begin the work of rebuilding our communities and making families whole.”

While power has been restored to most homes and businesses in the Carolinas and Virginia, and trucks have been picking up mountains of storm debris, water draining toward the Atlantic from inland areas has been sending rivers over their banks across a wide region.

In South Carolina, emergency managers ordered about 3,000 people to flee homes along the Lynches River.

The National Weather Service said the river could reach record flood levels late Saturday or early Sunday.

"Although the winds are gone and the rain is not falling, the water is still there and the worst is still to come," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

McMaster estimated the damage from flooding in his state at $1.2 billion. In a letter, he said the flooding will be the worst disaster in the state's modern history. McMaster asked congressional leaders to hurry federal aid.

HURRICANE FLORENCE HAS KILLED AT LEAST 3.4 MILLION CHICKENS AND TURKEYS IN NORTH CAROLINA 

Environmental concerns were also continuing to mount. Duke Energy said a dam containing a large lake at Wilmington power plant had been breached by floodwaters from Florence, and it was possible that coal ash from an adjacent dump was flowing into the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

Along the river, David Lloydand Benetta White and their four children were given short notice to evacuate overnight as floodwaters swept over their property.

“We almost lost our lives,” White said.

Cooper warned that flooding from Hurricane Florence will continue into next week and will continue to put lives at risk.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said it was monitoring four areas in the Atlantic for signs of a new tropical weather threat. One was off the coast of the Carolinas with a chance of drifting toward land.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.