North Carolina is drowning under more than 30″ of rain from Florence and 1-2 feet or more is likely in the next 24 hours. The heavy rain is submerging communities and now an interstate highway is at risk: I-95.
As the primary corridor along the east coast, I-95 is responsible for not only bringing people north and south, but commerce too. According to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, NC, this vital highway will be underwater tomorrow. This morning, the National Weather Service recorded a reading from Lumber River at Lumberton of 14.45ft. This level puts the river at Minor Flood Stage and rising. It is forecast to exceed flood stage tomorrow, rising to 24 feet. At this flood height, I-95 would flood between exits 17 and 19.
In October 2016, I-95 was closed due to flooding associated with Hurricane Matthew. Northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 95 were closed then between Exit 13 (the U.S. 74-Interstate 95 interchange) and Exit 56 (in Cumberland County) due to flooding conditions. The 2016 storm had major impacts to the highway over time. At one point, more than 43 miles of Interstate 95 southbound were closed between Exit 56 and Exit 13. On Interstate 95 northbound side, nine miles were closed between Exit 13 and Exit 22.
With more epic rainfall on the way, additional closures of I-95 and other regional highways and local roads are expected as massive floods hit. Even urban areas far inland are expected to see significant flooding. In Charlotte, meteorologists are calling for a 1,000 year flood to swamp through the city there.
Residents are warned not to travel in North Carolina until the flood threat has passed.