Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

'Relentless rains' continue as Florence almost stalls over Carolinas


NOAA NOAA / Reuters Hurricane Florence is shown from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) #GOESEast satellite shortly after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, US, 14 September.

"We are expecting several more days of rain, and our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said as the relenting storm puttered slowly west near the SC border.

That's the new North Carolina record for most rainfall from a single tropical system. The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to rise over their banks, flooding cities and towns.

The slow-moving storm is still dumping colossal amounts of rain on North Carolina and parts of northern SC.

The swift-water rescues on Saturday morning were mostly of people who hadn't heeded those orders, said Burgaw Fire Capt. Nick Smith.

"Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into west-central Virginia through early next week, as Florence moves slowly inland", the NHC statement read.

Utility crews worked to restore electricity even as flood waters inundated whole communities.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

At 2300 EDT (0300 GMT), the NHC said Florence had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 km), and was slowly drifting westward over SC. But its progress had slowed to a crawl of 5 miles per hour.

Steve Goldstein, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration liaison to FEMA headquarters, said on Saturday that the storm would "produce catastrophic flooding for some time", adding that many rivers would still experience catastrophic flooding from the storm and that 3- to 5-foot storm surges were still possible along the coast.

Travel is extremely hazardous because of storm surge, Trogdon said, and will only get worse. The storm will dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend.

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AFP's correspondent in Damascus heard a loud blast, followed by several smaller explosions. A SANA reporter meanwhile reported sounds of explosions in the vicinity of the airport.

In Fayetteville in North Carolina, officials warned people living by swollen rivers that the worst was yet to come. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.

60 primary roads have been closes, with more closures expected. The tropical storm's maximum sustained winds are holding steady, remaining at around 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts in heavy rainbands over water, the NWS said.

The National Hurricane Center has revealed its latest projections for Tropical Storm Florence.

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. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

Heavy rain is also in the forecast, with estimates showing over 20 inches near Jacksonville and toward New Bern.

Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

The center of the storm is hovering over eastern SC, after making landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday. As her son fed the goats in a hotel parking lot, she said she might not be able to return home until the middle of next week.

"Our friend behind our old house, they have gators swimming in the water. So yeah, not safe", Ochoa said.

The White House yesterday said President Donald Trump had approved making federal funding available in some counties.

"When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria", Trump tweeted, appearing to attribute the quote to the Washington Post.

A mother and baby died when a tree crashed into their home, the Wilmington Police Department saidon TwitterFriday afternoon.

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