Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas as it nears landfall

Christopher Davidson
September 14, 2018

But the National Hurricane Center is still warning of life-threatening storm surges, with as much as 11ft of ocean water expected to cover the Carolina coast.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of flooding, the NHC said.

"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.

Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the USA, including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence.

Hurricane Florence made landfall outside Wilmington, North Carolina, about 7:15 a.m. on Friday as a Category 1 storm.

As of 11 p.m., Florence was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 5 mph (7 kph).

Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.

Florence's rain will be relentless, with up to 40 inches expected in some parts of the Carolina coasts, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said the area should get heavy rain through Sunday. Flooding from rain and rising rivers also was reported in New Bern. There are about 150 people waiting to be rescued.

"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director. "If you're called to go, you need to go". The highest numbers are being reported in New Hanover County.

The Weather Channel Goes All In With Apocalyptic Hurricane Florence Graphics
He added: 'We have the situation that has developed here at the station and that is water is getting close to the building. The agency is also warning people in the evacuation areas to leave stating that "This is not going to be a glancing blow".

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.

Storm swell is predicted to reach almost 4 metres in height near the coastal cities of Wilmington and Jacksonville, absolutely devastating structures in the region.

So far, a state of emergency has been declared in five states - South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.

Reilly sells real estate in the Charleston area has seen his share of storms over the past two decades, including Tropical Storm Gaston in 2004 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Some 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Cooper said.

"If you are over there and something bad happens, you're out of luck", she said. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

As she sat in the hotel lobby eating a cold breakfast of bananas, cereal bars, and pastries, she recalled that the decision to heed the mandatory evacuation order for her area wasn't hard.

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