2 more deaths linked to Florence, Gov. Cooper's office says

Posted October 2, 2018 12:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT

— Two more deaths have been linked to Hurricane Florence, raising the toll of those who died from the monster storm that slammed into the North Carolina coast last month to 39, state officials said Tuesday.

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Gov. Roy Cooper's office said in a written statement that the latest fatalities were linked to storm clean-up, and that the devastation and destruction will be felt by the state and its residents, perhaps for years to come.

"Florence cut a broad path of death and destruction through our state and we will not soon forget this storm or the lives it claimed,” Cooper's statement said.

According to the governor's office, the two newest reported deaths were:

  • A 47-year-old man found dead outside a Duplin County residence on Sept. 21 due to a head injury he received when he fell from a ladder while repairing storm damage.

  • A 69-year-old man in Pender County who died on Sept. 22 after falling from a roof while cleaning storm debris and repairing damage.

News of the deaths came as the North Carolina General Assembly was meeting in special session to consider legislation to help those affected by the storm. Two bills under consideration by lawmakers would deal with schools, elections and state funding that could bring federal help.

Florence came ashore Sept. 14 as a Category 1 storm before it slowly made its way across the coastline and the southeastern region of the Tar Heel State before moving into South Carolina.

The storm dumped 3 feet of rain in some parts of North Carolina, which experienced the worst of the storm. And some coastal communities were devastated by the storm's strong winds and floodwaters that drenched the state.

Emergency workers performed at least 5,000 rescues statewide during and after the storm, and several of the state's river gauges were at major flood stage while others were at a moderate stage in the days immediately after the storm.

Residents around the state are still struggling to recover.

Cooper urged North Carolina residents to apply for assistance from the federal government as they look to rebuild.

“For people working to recover, applying with FEMA is the single most important thing you can do. If you suffered damage from Florence, make sure you apply for assistance right away.”

Anyone wanting help from FEMA should call 800-621-FEMA (800-621-3362)

The state said residents should apply at disaster recovery centers open around the state in hard-hit communities, including two new centers that opened this week in Harnett and Duplin counties.

According to state officials, more than 104,000 North Carolinians have registered with FEMA since Florence hit and nearly $70 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for individuals and families.

Cooper also announced the start of Back@Home North Carolina, a $12 million initiative to help families still in Hurricane Florence disaster shelters or staying in unsafe or unstable arrangements quickly transition to safe and sustainable longer-term housing.

“For many people impacted by this disaster, getting back on their feet will take time,” Cooper said. “Back@Home will help families move from disaster shelters to safe housing as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives.”

The governor's office said Back@Home team members were traveling to impacted areas of the state with Multi-Agency Shelter Transition teams to reach families and individuals quickly and help them find and secure stable housing options and other needed resources.

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