Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Culture | By Glenn Strickland

Hurricane Florence Leaves Over Half a Million in the Dark

Hurricane Florence Leaves Over Half a Million in the Dark

National Weather Service Though Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a category 2 hurricane, it's still caused storm surges up to 10 feet in some areas, with the worst of the flooding still expected to come.

Hurricane Florence delivered a slow-motion assault to the coast of North Carolina early Friday, with catastrophic storm surge and torrential rains that will continue for days.

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR AND TYPO IN CITY NAME A family is stalled in water as they wait to be rescued during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said.

Rain is forecast to continue through the weekend, bringing unsafe flooding conditions to many areas of North Carolina.

Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.

In one incident, a mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.

Millions of people around the world are now going through some extreme weather conditions as a result of Hurricane Florence. "The storm is wreaking havoc on our state".

The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.

The White House said President Donald Trump was to visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts". Crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground, Roberts said.

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The Carolinas and Virginia will be smashed with the life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain. Evacuating institutionalized people ahead of a storm is always a challenge, but failing to do so can prove deadly.

"It's a very risky storm", Federal Emergency Management Authority administrator Jeff Byard said. But with a storm surge putting pressure on water to head back inland and heavy rains swelling those rivers, widespread flooding is the result. "I've never seen the water as high as it came".

"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril. "We've got some roof issues, parts of roof are coming off and we've got some fences coming down". "The water started rising and we evacuated nearly an entire TV station in about 15 minutes".

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's winds have slowed to tropical storm strength, and said the storm is moving slowly inland with sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour and higher gusts. The Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington had already swollen by Friday afternoon with storm surges rushing north being met by rainwater pouring into the river.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

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 streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

"Our house is on high ground so we're not anxious about the flooding", he said. "But there are a lot of big trees around so we preferred to spend the night at a friend's to be sure".

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