Hurricane Florence turns deadly as it pounds Carolinas

Sheri SchwartzSep 15, 2018

Firefighters look into a home that a large tree fell on that has three people trapped after Hurricane Florence hit the area on September 14, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

The storm made landfall at Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m., with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier island chain, had already received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Service said. Duke Energy expects between 1 million to 3 million homes and businesses to lose power. The large size of the tree made it hard, Wilmington Fire Department Chief Jon Mason said during a Friday afternoon press conference. "Little rough but we're all out", a tweet said. "We are stuck in the attic". There are about 150 people waiting to be rescued. "This large-scale feature is expected to keep the hurricane moving northwestward today, followed by a turn toward the west at a much slower speed on Friday as the ridge to the north of Florence weakens due to a weak shortwave trough dropping slowly southward from the Ohio Valley".

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, the center of Florence was 100 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 155 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Charlotte-based Duke had posted roughly 96,000 outages in Carteret, Craven, Pamlico, Onslow and New Hanover counties, while the co-ops listed more than 74,700 outages in the same general area.

Members of the North Carolina National Guard finish stacking sand bags under a highway overpass near the Lumber River which is expected to flood from hurricane Florence's rain.

New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones. Authorities say at least 20,000 people have evacuated their homes and are sought refuge in shelters throughout North Carolina.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed. The coming storm surges and heavy rains will cause severe flooding that may submerge parts of the Carolinas in up to 40 inches of rain.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

Travel on the state's roads has grown "extremely hazardous", said Jim Trogdon, the North Carolina transportation secretary, who warned in a late-morning briefing that a 500- to 1,000-year "flood event is anticipated".

In New Bern, the picturesque riverfront town and birth place of Pepsi, where the Neuse and Trent rivers meet, incoming Mayor Sabrina Bengel said hundreds had been rescued after residents began calling before daybreak as waters rose to rooftops. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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