More than 53,000 Carolinas customers without power after Florence

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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.

Many areas remained cut off by floodwaters and inundated roads.

Members of the Cajun Navy transport loggers to clear power lines after Tropical Storm Florence caused a massive flooding in Whiteville, North Carolina, U.S. September 17, 2018.

The North Carolina Pork Council says that lagoons holding hog feces and urine are supposed to safely absorb at least 19 inches of rain and that ahead of the storm, many were prepared for more than 25 inches.

Floodwaters have caused 21 hog "lagoons", which store manure from pig farms, to overflow, creating a risk of standing water being contaminated with bacteria like salmonella, according to the state's Department of Environmental Quality.

"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.

The industry lost about 2,800 hogs during flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

He has been criticized for his handling of Hurricane Maria, which devastate Puerto Rico past year, and more recently for disputing the official death toll of 3,000.

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"The Company estimates that approximately 1.7 million head of broiler chickens out of an average live inventory of approximately 20 million head, ranging in age from six days to sixty-two days, were destroyed as a result of flooding", Sanderson Farms said in a statement this week.

In addition, about 30 farms near Lumberton have been isolated by flood waters, hampering the delivery of feed to animals.

Much of Columbus County, where Fair Bluff is located, was under water, according to Steve Abbott of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, with most roads closed and "driving not advised". The company initially estimated Saturday that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced, enough to fill about 180 dump trucks.

Coal ash is what's left over after being burned in a power plant, and it contains a variety of heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.

Sutton Lake drains into the Cape Fear River.

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 company said it expects to restore power to most customers by September 26. The company said it would ramp up production as roads become passable.

Duke said that based on its experience, it thinks the flooded tree-covered pits would have "no measurable environmental effects", said Sheehan, the spokeswoman.

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