Hurricane Florence floods parts of the Carolinas with pounding wind and rain
17 September, 2018, 00:00 | Author: Kelly Sanders
By 2 p.m., more than 658,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, and the Triangle had begun to experience outages.
Firefighters and rescue crews pray in front of a home after removing a resident trapped inside during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. The storm, which made landfall Friday morning as a Category 1, is expected to continue to soak the area throughout the weekend.
Florence crashed into the Carolina coast on Friday, felling trees, dumping almost three feet (0.91 m) of rain on some spots and leading to the deaths of at least four people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
Firefighters pray during an operation to remove a tree that fell on a house and killed two residents as Hurricane Florence made landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.
A man was taken to the hospital.
Local authorities reported a death in Pender County when downed trees prevented emergency units from reaching a woman with a medical condition. Half a million people lacked power Friday.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned that life-threatening storm surges - in which water is pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry - and catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected.
Roy Cooper, North Carolina Governor, said on Friday: "This storm is relentless and excruciating".
"You're going to have a hard time finding a North Carolinian who is not going to be affected by this storm in some way", Cooper said. "It's an uninvited brute, who doesn't wanna leave".
Storm surge was as high as 10 feet on the Neuse River, he said.
Emergency crews were stretched thin.
"The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's getting worse", Cooper said, calling Florence a "thousand-year rain event". "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was, â€ he said. â€œThis is a 500- or 1,000-year event. â€Eudy´s family has lived in New Bern since the 1850s, he said".
About 20,000 people hunkered down in 157 schools, shelters and a coliseum in Winston-Salem.
Billy Sample, a resident stuck in the town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said Friday night: "The height of the storm didn't feel as bad as it is now".
Others who chose to stay at home perhaps regretted their decision. "We don't know the magnitude yet of this storm, because it has just come ashore and it's going to be here a long time, and it's going to cut a wide swath across our state". Additional swiftwater rescue teams were on the way. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
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Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The flooding in southeast North Carolina and northeast SC might be "unprecedented", according to the agency .
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Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles. The Union Point Park Complex is seen flooded as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, on Thursday.
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the impact of the storm would be widespread, hitting the coast early Friday morning. The storm may stall over SC and North Carolina, dump several feet of rain, and trigger widespread flooding .
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The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.
Mother and child among first victims of Hurricane Florence
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.
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