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Flooding from rain-swollen rivers is expected to worsen across the Carolinas over the next couple of days in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
A week after Hurricane Florence made landfall, the trillions of gallons of water it dumped over the Carolinas are slowly moving toward the sea and leaving a path of destruction behind.
Thousands of homes are still underwater in the Carolinas and thousands of families have had to be rescued from the floods.
Authorities planned to start handing out 15,000 sandbags Friday.
The investigation has been handed over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the sheriff's office has launched an internal investigation, officials said.
Of the 44 people killed, three have been in Virginia, 32 in North Carolina and nine in SC, officials said.
Residents were warned the confluence of the Big Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers - where they merge - could reach flood levels even greater than those seen during Hurricane Matthew.
State-owned utility Santee Cooper in SC is placing an inflatable dam around a coal ash pond near Conway, saying the extra 2.5 feet (76 centimeters) should be enough to keep floodwaters out. Blackhawk helicopters were used to pluck many of them to safety.
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he knows the damage in his state will add up to billions of dollars, but said with the effects on the storm ongoing, there was no way to make a more accurate estimate.
Around 750 roads remained closed across North Carolina on Thursday, down from around 2,200, according to the state's Department of Transportation.
Addressing roughly 10,000 people who remain in shelters and "countless more" staying elsewhere, Cooper urged them to stay put for now, particularly those from the hardest-hit coastal counties that include Wilmington, near where Florence blew ashore on Friday.
Smita Depani, center, stands in the apartment she lived in while surveying the damage with her brother-in-law Jayanti Depani, left, and sister-in-law Puspa Manvar in the motel they own which was destroyed in the flooding from Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Over the weekend, Duke also said that flooding had resulted in toxic coal ash spill.
As floodwaters continued to rise, concerns grew about environmental and health dangers.
Paige Sheehan, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the company didn't believe the breach at the L.V. Sutton Power Station posed a significant threat for increased flooding to nearby communities because the river is already running high.
When manure pits overflow, there is a risk that water supplies will be contaminated with bacteria like salmonella and e. coli.
Members of North Carolina's congressional delegation have said they expect a relief package to move through Congress next week, Moore and Berger said, they want to clear the red tape as soon as possible so federal money can be immediately directed to the appropriate state agencies.
Several sewer systems in the region also have released untreated or partly treated sewage and storm water into waterways over the last week, local media reported.