Severe flooding after Hurricane Florence makes landfall

Lewis Collier
September 16, 2018

When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell.

As Florence lingers over east SC, officials are keeping an eye on areas prone to flooding. Gusts reached over 100 miles per hour - the highest recorded in North Carolina since 1958.

"The cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said.

There is the potential for 40 inches of rain to fall in some areas across Northern and Southern Carolina.

By 5 a.m., about 200 people had been rescued from flooded homes in New Bern, where the National Weather Service reported 10 feet of inundation.

Parts of West-central Virginia and far eastern West Virginia will see "life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with an elevated risk for landslides", according to the agency. Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti.

"We're in God's hands", said Rick Foreman, pastor at West Lumberton Baptist Church, as the Lumber River steadily rose Friday and local residents filled sandbags.

Christy Hall, South Carolina's state secretary of transportation, on Saturday announced plans to build two emergency dams as rainfall is expected to flood routes leading into Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located. Mangkhut's tropical storm force winds stretched more than 325 miles from the center, while Florence's spread about 195 miles, Klotzbach said.

"The water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood", he said.

'Threat becomes reality': Hurricane Florence begins days of rain, wind
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore. Rain begins to fall as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 13, 2018.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the coastline for days. Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm from a category one hurricane, cascades of rain are pouring onto residential areas, filling the first floor of houses and causing cars to float along streets.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm as it moved further inland in the days ahead.

Mother Lesha Murphy-Johnson and her baby, Zac, were killed after being trapped inside their home in Wilmington when a tree fell onto the roof at around 9.30am on Friday. The child's father was taken to a hospital.

A woman in Hampstead, in Pender County, died of an apparent heart attack after emergency crews could not clear debris to get to her. A 78-year-old man connecting extension cords in the rain was electrocuted, according to Roger Dail, the Lenoir County director of emergency services. A town spokesman said between 60 and 75 people were awaiting rescue on Saturday.

New Bern's mayor said 4,200 homes were damaged in the city. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit. As he struggled to maintain his balance against the high winds and rain, Seidel says, "This is about as nasty as it's been".

That's just the number of customers without power in the Carolinas. The figure for SC was 170,000.

He added that 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

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