Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Florence begins slow assault on Carolinas

Florence begins slow assault on Carolinas

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads, gorging rivers and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage the storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path.

At a press conference Thursday morning, officials stressed that Hurricane Florence's wind speed may have fallen, but the danger has not.

As of 8am ET on Thursday, Florence was driving maximum sustained winds of 110mph (177km/h), according to an updated forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

"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 non-profit director. The storm's overall movement has slowed to 10 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds extend up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the center.

Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early on Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina border.

The National Weather Service expects Florence to drop 20 - 30 inches (50 - 76 centimeters) of rain, with some areas receiving up to 40 inches (100 centimeters), and called the expected deluge "hard to comprehend". That same area experienced unsafe flooding after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The Governor warned that tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone.

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's approach said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave. "I hope we don't but that might be the only thing that would affect us", James said.

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Videos show two large sections of limestone crashing down, sending large waves onto the beach and overturning vessels. Rescue services with sniffer dogs are searching the beach for possible victims.

Storm to be "exceptionally bad news" if it hovers offshore Usually when a storm approaches the coast, forecasters can tell with ever-increasing accuracy who will get walloped.

But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". This is a powerful storm that can kill. "Today the threat becomes a reality", he said. Water causes the most deaths during tropical storms and hurricanes, and Florence expected to cause risky flooding.

The mayor of Myrtle Beach says her city has done as much as it can to prepare for Hurricane Florence.

More than 22,600 people were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena.

In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later.

Duke Energy said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that was later downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a Wilmington hotel several miles inland.

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