As Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters start to recede, the storm’s lasting damage is slowly becoming apparent. Apart from the 44 deaths and thousands of flooded homes, some of the storm’s most concerning impacts are environmental. Poisonous coal ash is flowing into rivers, and at least 50 lagoons of pig waste flooded, spreading dangerous levels of nitrites to the surrounding areas.
Another impact became apparent over the weekend, when eerie photos of dead fish scattered across North Carolina’s I-40 began to appear on social media, according to The Charlotte Observer. The floodwaters covering the roads had receded, stranding the fish far from their rivers and lakes.
A strangely upbeat Facebook post from the Penderlea Fire Department described blasting the fish off the road with a fire hose.
“We can add ‘washing fish off of the interstate’ to the long list of interesting things firefighters get to experience!” they wrote.
“Hurricane Florence caused massive flooding in our area and allowed the fish to travel far from their natural habitat, stranding them on the interstate when waters receded,” the post continued.
One Facebook video of the scattered fish, from Wilmington resident Glen Bailey, showed a dead fish suspended in a roadside fence. The video received over 600,000 views.
Another post, from North Carolina Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor Jeff Garrett, included a photo of a fish that was in the process of eating another fish when it died.
The dead fish aren’t just a novelty—local residents say that they’re beginning to stink. Facebook commenter Aleksandr Gruzinskaya described it as a “horrible decaying flesh smell” that adds “insult to injury” as the region recovers from the rest of the storm damage.