Storm-ravaged Carolinas brace for even more flooding

The death toll from Hurricane Florence climbed to at least 37 including two mental health patients who drowned when a sheriff's van was swept away by floodwaters and North Carolina's governor pleaded with thousands of evacuees not to return

WHAT'S HAPPENING: What will life be like after Hurricane Florence?

Clear blue Carolina skies belied the devastation of the past week.

The slow-moving storm made landfall on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane and was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday visited North Carolina to survey damage from Hurricane Florence.

At least 37 people, including several young children, have died from Florence, which brought unprecedented rainfall and flooding to the Carolinas.

Oliver Kelly, 1, cries as he is carried off the sheriff's airboat during his rescue from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Leland, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018.

He asked a state official during his briefing at the Marine Corps base how a region of North Carolina called Lake Norman had been impacted. Much of Lumberton, where the Lumber river flooded mostly lower-income housing, was still inaccessible.

The city was still recovering from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and Florence's flooding is more widespread. Flood waters were continuing to rise, the death toll was continuing to increase.

Trump visited a church in New Bern, a town of 30,000 located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers that was hit especially hard by flooding, and joined volunteers in passing out boxed meals to locals in a drive-through line. The storm has devastated communities, flooding acres of land, destroying homes, and displacing thousands of people.

Ahead of his trip, the president praised the first responders and people who live in the areas affected in a video posted to his Twitter account. "God bless you", the president said in a statement. We will never leave your side. And to all those impacted by this bad storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help.

And he was caught on camera telling a person to whom he had just handed food to "have a good time".

Trump then spoke to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

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President Trump is in North Carolina today, visiting victims of Hurricane Florence.

"Now it looks nice, but it's really the calm before the storm", he said. Thousands are still without power.

Florence and its deluge have washed out the normal contours of life across the Tar Heel State.

Utility crews, road workers and local governments are making progress. "Nearly 20,000 federal and military personnel are supporting response efforts", he said.

"I'm very pleased with where we are but I know we've got a long way to go, because this event's not over", Long said at the news briefing with Cooper, where he was asked no questions about the investigation dogging him in Washington.

"We have weathered storms before in our state". "This one has been epic".

When the official said it was doing fine, Trump replied, "I love that area". "We're going to need your help". "We'll have it all taken care of".

"Whatever we have to do at the federal level, we will be there", he said.

Holden says the deputies tried to get the detainees out but couldn't open the doors.

In Conway, S.C., he walked through a neighbourhood where a street was under water.

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