A photograph documents that a portion of Interstate 40 in North Carolina was completely underwater after Hurricane Florence.
Is that a river or Interstate 40? On 17 September 2018, that question was bandied about over an incredible photograph showing a long, straight body of water surrounded by trees which widely circulated on social media along with messages stating it documented severe flooding that occurred in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence:
Some social media users have grown skeptical of disaster photographs, as doctored and misleading images are frequently circulated in the aftermath of natural phenomena hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. So even though this image was shared by credible news outlets, some viewers were still uncertain if the image was authentic.
This is a genuine picture of flood waters covering Interstate 40 in North Carolina. This still shot came from footage filmed by the North Carolina Division of Aviation and shared by the North Carolina Division of Transportation’s Twitter account. According to that government body, the photograph depicts a section of I-40 in Pender County:
This isn’t a river…this is Interstate 40. @NCAviation captured this drone footage today as part of damage assessment near mile marker 387 in Pender County. This illustrates our message that travel in this area is impassable and unsafe. #FlorenceNC pic.twitter.com/28Ok6Tjpcu
— NCDOT (@NCDOT) September 17, 2018
A number of other news outlets have also shared images showing portions of Interstate 40 underwater. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) urged residents to stay off the roads, saying: “Floodwaters are rising as rivers crest and will for days. I urge if you, if you don’t have to drive, stay off the road.” Jim Trogdon, the state’s Department of Transportation Secretary, shared another image of this section of I-40 which showed a boat on the water:
Interstate 40 at Pender County pic.twitter.com/d8XYXCZRsE
— MG(R) Jim Trogdon PE (@NCDOT_Trogdon) September 17, 2018
Here’s another image of the stretch of highway that was posted by the North Carolina Highway Patrol:
The @NCSHP, through a joint effort with @NCDOT, is conducting UAS flying missions over flooded areas to map out structural damage, as well as identify flooded vehicles that may have trapped occupants. Watch mission footage here: https://t.co/LlYtD1KW0a. #FlorenceNC pic.twitter.com/BynmtB4P4z
— NC Highway Patrol (@NCSHP) September 18, 2018