Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

Christopher Davidson
September 16, 2018

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour, and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 miles per hour.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 170 miles (280 kilometers).

Florence also blew down trees.

Employees at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio for the "first time in history", the station posted on Facebook Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw explained to NPR's All Things Considered that people stayed in their homes, despite evacuation orders, because storms that were predicted to be awful in the past, just didn't happen.

High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on September 14, 2018. A Doppler radar picture in the background that kept rolling amid the silence showed Florence swirling toward the coast.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and unsafe.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, R, urged patience, emphasizing that his state has never seen "a hurricane staying on top of us for this long".

The Associated Press Flooding caused by Hurricane Florence covers blocks of Front Street in downtown New Bern on Friday.

New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.

The disaster area was expected to get about as much rain in three days as the 1999 Dennis and Floyd storms dropped in two weeks.

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

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", he said. "I'm in chest deep water, I need help, I need you to rescue me", she says. It was expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north, forecasters said.

The peak wind gust of 105 miles per hour recorded Friday at the Wilmington airport was "second highest that's ever been recorded" there, said John Quagliariello with the National Weather Service in Columbia.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the USA electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said early Friday morning that between 150 and 200 people had been rescued so far, with others still waiting for help.

Perry says his department has been in contact with power companies and gas pipeline operators. "We knew it was coming, and we're working very hard to keep our citizens safe", Outlaw said.

As the giant, 644km/hr hurricane pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses.

The center of the eye of the hurricane made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and was moving slowly westward just south of Wilmington.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power September 14 morning according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

Cline said July was the wettest ever in that part of North Carolina, and the water table rose 21 inches higher than normal. "I'm scared to death of flooding", she said, "and actually just losing my life".

During Hurricane Matthew in 2016 - North Carolina's last major hurricane - the state counted 4,071 people in 109 shelters.

In Kinston, a city southeast of Raleigh, two people died in the storm.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

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