He’s alright. And the kitten is too, but the video of Robert Simmons and his weeks-old tabby being rescued from flood waters in North Carolina have captured the hearts of many. Read on for Robert Simmons’ story, just one of hundreds, maybe thousands that have occurred since Friday and continue Sunday and will likely for days.
As Florence, now a tropical depression, slogs westward with lighter winds but still plenty of rain, homes in a number of North Carolina counties are flooded floors-deep, rivers have reached flood stage, roads are under water and thousands of rescuers from down the block and across the country are on the ground, in boats, and in the air.
Here’s what you need to know as the threat for catastrophic flooding for the Carolinas is far from being over.
Thousands of Rescue Workers are in the Carolinas Including ‘High Water’ Local, State & Federal Rescue Teams, the Cherokee Nation, the Cajun Navy & Responders from Across America
The Cajun Navy, a group of citizen boaters born out of the tragedy of Katrina does water rescues with jon boats, air boats, pontoon boats and includes volunteers from Louisiana and other nearby states. The Cajun Navy was a lifesaver during Hurricane Harvey and is in the Carolinas now.
Its Facebook page links to an online form to request a rescue. But some are just posting please for help. Like physician Andrea Simmons who posted Sunday morning: “Okay people. This is an emergency situation! The residence at highland acres have 36 at st. paul’s high school. I can’t get there but if there are any nurses, med techs or CNAs in the area they need help. Theybhave five staff members who are there but these are stretcher bound patients. Things are dangerous on the road but ifnyiur close by and the flood waters are not bad they need help!” (Heavy has not edited this post; misspellings may indicate posting hastily or in difficult circumstances.)
The Cajun Navy responded to Simmons’ post asking she message them. It appears that Simmons is referring to Highland Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Lumberton. St. Paul’s High School is an emergency shelter in Robeson County and has been full for days.
A @USCG helicopter crew rescues people affected by flooding caused by #Florence in Onslow County, #NorthCarolina.
The Cherokee Nation sent an eight-man special operations water rescue team, boats, ATVs and its new search and rescue truck to North Carolina Thursday to help with potential relief efforts from Hurricane Florence rainfall. The Cherokee Nation also has three emergency management team members in North Carolina.
Help has come from all over the country including first responders from Orange County, California. Here’s a post of a rescue they made Saturday.
Emergency Management Officials Hope Residents Will Keep an Eye on Flooding Nearby as Rivers Rise. The Cape Fear River Has Reached Flood Stage
Mandatory evacuation orders for almost 3,000 households are in place as the Cape Fear River has risen to flood stage and will, in the next day or two will crest at more than 62 feet.
According to a press releases from the City of Fayetteville, people who live near the river “face imminent danger from the flood waters that will soon arrive.”
The mandatory evacuations will impact about 2,800 households.
The river hit 35 feet before dawn Sunday and is expected to hit “major flood level Tuesday morning as it crests at 62.3 feet.” Before Florence, on Sept. 13, the river measured less than 12 feet, it’s reported.
On the city’s website, there’s info for residents on how to “determine if they are within one mile of the banks of the Cape Fear or the Little Rivers and under a mandatory evacuation due to impending flooding.”
And as rescues continue for the stranded, and tens of thousands in shelters, keeping track of the flooding, knowing where flash floods are occurring, is important especially as emergency management officials say people should stay put; it’s just not safe yet to venture out.
All Creatures Great & Small Needed Help & Still do
Like an animal shelter where dozens and dozens of animals were in immediate danger as the roof of the flooded pound was giving way. Again, the Raleigh-based News & Observer covered the story.
“The Carteret County Humane Society was taking on water. Its roof was collapsing. The shelter needed immediate help to evacuate 123 dogs and cats along with three staff members,” the paper was told Friday evening. Overnight, all the animals and staff were recused.
Saturday, these images came from reporter Carter of ongoing pet rescues, from a flooded kennel and homes.
Rescuers Search the Flooded City of New Bern
As night fell Friday, rescuers searched the waters for anyone stranded or in need in New Bern.
Come Saturday morning, Sept. 15, North Carolina National Guardsmen and the Greenville Fire Department swift water team went door-to-door.
That was in hard-hit New Bern Thursday. Miles away and a day later, as the rains continued, the stranded were all over.
Rains Continue Raising Rivers, Covering Roads & Bring Flash Floods & Mud & Land-Slides
Officials and meteorologists have long been warning that rising flood waters in rivers would be of particular concern bringing flash floods and mud and land-slides. As now Tropical Storm Florence moves at a pounding crawl, heavy rains and gusty winds mean a million without power, and roadways closed that are, literally, under water.
North Carolina Gov. Cooper Saturday urged residents to stay out of harm’s way explaining Florence is more dangerous today than it was a day ago.
“The flood danger from storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall 24 hrs ago. We face walls of water. More ppl now face a threat than when the storm was offshore. Flood waters are rising, & if you aren’t watching for them, you are risking life.”
The Story of Robert Simmons & ‘Survivor’
While covering rescue operations, News & Observer journalists in a small jon boat were about to head back to the newsroom when they came across this scene. Reporter Andrew Carter explained in a series of tweets, and then a full story Saturday, The scene was recorded by videographer Travis Long.
“Meet Robert Simmons. Was stuck in his house since last night, when floodwaters began to rise in New Bern. A boat came and rescued him just now. He was sad to leave his father but left with his kitten hugging his neck. Cat’s name: Survivor, Simmons said.”
Carter explained that, “For those wondering, Robert wanted his father to leave on the boat, too. But his father wanted to stay behind. There was probably about a half-mile of waist-deep water between their place and the street that led out of the neighborhood.
This video from @vizjourno takes you into the scene (and the floodwaters) of what we experienced in New Bern yesterday. Also captures the heartbreak of Robert Simmons after he’s rescued from his home. Please watch and see what folks are dealing with here.”
Reporters Doing Their Part in Rescues
Journalists are not just covering the stories in their communities as Tropical Storm Florence continues its assault, they are part of the story.