Hurricane Florence: 'Catastrophic' storm surge could cause 3-metre-deep flooding

15 September, 2018, 17:28 | Author: Myra Gill
  • People survey damage and flooding brought by Hurricane Florence to Front Street in downtown New Bern N.C. Friday

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders held out hope of being rescued.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

US Southeast power companies said more than 188,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and SC were without power early Friday as Hurricane Florence caused a deluge ahead of its landfall later in the day.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The governor's office said a third person was killed while plugging in a generator.

The Cajun Navy rescues stranded residents in New Bern, North Carolina, as storm surge waters inundate the coastal city.

Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days".

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth". It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Thursday evening and was located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Morehead City, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h).

But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.

Heavy rainfall could leave nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, it's feared. The storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Florence will pose fatal threat for days
What is a storm surge? Hurricane Florence brings 'catastrophic flood' warnings

Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but then reconsidered.

"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place", he said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

The video below, taken in Wilmington, North Carolina, shows a large tree being split in half in Florence's winds. Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. "This will cause extremely risky flooding", the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned.

Hurricane Florence, weakened but still unsafe, crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a dayslong deluge.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw said about 200 people were rescued overnight and taken to shelters, while another 150 were still awaiting help early Friday. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

Flooding in new bern due to Hurricane Florence. Forecasters warned of "catastrophic" freshwater flooding along the Carolinas.

The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958. Nationwide, airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.

Florence's circulation was pushing water ashore, especially north of its eye, in coastal or riverside towns like New Bern and Belhaven, turning land to lakes. "Thank you!" he tweeted. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU" the city's Twitter page announced.

Boat teams rescued residents Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault.

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. And that's when people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose.


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