Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Losing Speed, Tropical Storm Florence Will Continue Slowly Through The Carolinas

Losing Speed, Tropical Storm Florence Will Continue Slowly Through The Carolinas

"Florence slowly weakening just inland over eastern SC but causing catastrophic flooding over North and SC", the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Saturday morning, after downgrading it from a hurricane to a tropical storm the previous day.

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. A Pender County woman died of a heart attack.

"We're helping out a lot of people today", says Craven County Emergency Services spokesperson Amber Parker.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing about a storm that forecasters said was 300 miles (480 km) wide. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.

Florence had been a category three hurricane with 120mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a category one hurricane before coming ashore. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in SC, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, Florence was centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving west at 2 mph (4 kph), not even as fast as a person can walk.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15am (local time) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 150kph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

In New Bern, a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges up to 10 feet (3 meters), authorities were rescuing stranded residents and taking stock of damages.

Cooper had a stark warning to any residents considering returning to their flooded home towns.

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Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".

New Bern residents were putting out calls for help on social media, claiming they couldn't get through to 911. They ventured out in life jackets into waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern to a hotel some 80 miles (130 km) away.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter). Some areas in SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

He is expected to travel to areas affected by the hurricane next week, the White House said Friday. Trump plans a visit to the region next week.

Downed trees and long-lasting power outages are also expected, with utility companies predicting it could take weeks for power to be restored.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm on Friday and expected to further downgrade it to a tropical depression by Saturday night. It will likely weaken more on Friday, with "rapid weakening forecast over the weekend", the hurricane center said.

Prior to Hurricane Florence's landfall, more than 1.7 million were ordered to evacuate the coast.

Traffic on Lowcountry roads continues to flow smoothly Saturday.

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