By Gina Martinez
September 18, 2018

A series of photos of a rising North Carolina river over three days shows the historic scale of the flooding in parts of North Carolina – even as the storm formerly known as Hurricane Florence moves slowly out of the Carolinas.

The Cape Fear River in Fayetteville was at 60.1 feet and still rising as of noon Tuesday. It’s projected to crest at 61.6 feet, which is far from the 1945 record of 68.9 feet, but higher than the 58.9 feet it reached after Hurricane Matthew, according to the National Weather Service. The Cape Fear River expected to spread to a width of up to 2 miles, with several thousand homes and business threatened. As the city of Fayetteville begins to flood, up to 150 homes will be threatened, according to the National Weather Service.

The flood waters aren’t expected to recede to normal levels until late Friday – one week after the hurricane made landfall.

The Cape Fear River is just one of several major rivers that are spilling over their banks after Hurricane Florence brought massive storm surge and record rainfall to North and South Carolina. More than 25 inches of rain fell on inland parts of North and South Carolina – deluging streams and rivers with vast amounts of water.

Lumber River in Lumberton is also at a Major Flood Stage with 21.9 feet of water, breaking the previous record of 21.8 feet, the National Weather Service said. The floodwaters are inching closer to the local Pepsi plant and dozens of homes will be isolated and inundated. Several roads will be closed near the river. Flooding is expected to continue there for the next few days.

As of Tuesday, the death toll from Florence was at 32 and rising, with 24 of those deaths taking place in North Carolina, according to the Associated Press. The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical depression, but warned that catastrophic flash fooding, river flooding and landslides are still expected in western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.

On Sunday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents at a press conference to steer clear of flooded areas in the upcoming days.

“Never drive through flooded roads. Just a few inches of water can wash your car away,” Cooper said.

Last week Mike Doll, Senior Meteorologist at Accuweather, warned that residents near the Cape Fear River and other low-lying areas next to streams, creeks and rivers, should prepare for river flooding.

“Once the last drops of rain [have] occurred doesn’t mean problems are over,” he said. “People that live in flood-prone areas near creeks and rivers need to be prepared. Even after the rain has ended, residents should still pay attention.”

Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com.

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