More than 53,000 Carolinas customers without power after Florence

More than 53,000 Carolinas customers without power after Florence

At least 16 rivers remained at a major flood stage, with three others set to crest in the coming days in North Carolina, the state said.

More than 15,000 people remain in shelters and more than 200,000 customers are without power across North Carolina, six days after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, according to state officials. And, Cooper warned, "we will see more flooding".

WH Group Ltd's Smithfield Foods Inc [SFIL.UL], the biggest USA pork producer, was operating processing plants at limited capacity, after previously closing the world's largest hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, North Carolina, spokeswoman Diana Souder said.

The risk management firm Moody's Analytics said damage from Florence in North Carolina could be as high as $22 billion.

North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality said on Tuesday that the walls of four pits holding hog waste, known as lagoons, had given way because of the storm, thirteen pits had overflowed due to rain, and nine were inundated by floodwaters. Fifty-five were at or near their capacity.

North Carolina is among the top states in the nation in producing pork and poultry, with about 9 million hogs at any given time and 819 million chickens and 34 million turkeys raised each year.

"While there are more than 3,000 active lagoons in the state that have been unaffected by the storm, we remain concerned about the potential impact of these record-shattering floods", said Andy Curliss, chief executive of the North Carolina Pork Council.

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Florence has already killed at least 35 people, including 26 in North Carolina and eight in SC where local media reported that two mental health patients drowned on Tuesday when the sheriff's van the women were in crashed. But it wasn't merely the hog industry that was struggling to assess damage in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

Sanderson Farms, one of the nation's largest poultry producers, estimated that about 1.7 million of its young chickens had died as a result of flooding.

The company added: "In addition, approximately thirty farms, housing approximately 211,000 chickens per farm, in the Lumberton, North Carolina, area are isolated by flood waters and the Company is unable to reach those farms with feed trucks. Losses of live inventory could escalate if the company does not regain access to those farms", Sanderson Farms said in a statement.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses remain without power, most in North Carolina and many for nearly a week.

Former basketball star Michael Jordan, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, and the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association, donated $2 million to the Florence recovery effort, the team said. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said a full assessment of how much ash escaped from the waterlogged landfill is ongoing.

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