WILMINGTON, N.C. — North Carolina confronted a spiraling statewide crisis on Sunday as Tropical Depression Florence slowly ravaged the region, flooding cities, endangering communities from the coastline to the rugged mountains, and requiring well more than 1,000 rescues.
Sunday, it seemed, was when the storm system that had stalked the South for days — first as a hurricane, then as a tropical storm and eventually as a tropical depression — showed its full power with staggering scope. The death toll from the storm rose to at least 16 in North and South Carolina, where roads were treacherous and even the most stately trees were falling.
“It’s horrible,” said Mitch Colvin, the mayor of Fayetteville, N.C., in the eastern part of the state, where the rising Cape Fear River was expected to swamp bridges and cut his city in two in the next few days. “Things are deteriorating,” he said.
The perils stretched across North Carolina’s more than 500-mile width. Weary, drenched coastal cities were scenes of daring rescues. Waterways swelled throughout the eastern and central parts of the state, testing dams and menacing towns with floodwaters that had no place to go but up. Inch after inch of rain fell on Charlotte and its suburbs, and communities in North Carolina’s western mountains feared landslides.