Hurricane Florence evacuations expand, with 'disaster at doorstep'

Frederick Owens
September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence smashed into the US East Coast on Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters.

A family enjoys the surf ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Oak Island, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7.15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

By late afternoon, the centre of the storm was about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

The center of Florence will move across extreme southeastern North Carolina Friday evening and extreme eastern South Carolina Friday night and Saturday, the NHC said.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter). Tracking service GasBuddy says that has led to a run on gas stations that left about 5 percent of all service stations in North Carolina out of gasoline by Wednesday. Tropical storm watches extend as far north as Norfolk, Virginia.

President Donald Trump said his administration was "as ready as anybody has ever been" to respond to the storm.

When will it make landfall?

Final preparations went into place Thursday as a slowing Hurricane Florence gave the coastal Carolinas a little more time to prepare for the storm's devastating power.

"Everybody laughs at the fact that this storm got downgraded. but I've never seen tree devastation this bad."Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighborhood and making sure my neighbors are fine, because nobody can get in here".

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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.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches are now in effect up and down the coast of North Carolina and SC.

The hurricane center said the large amount of rainfall "will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.

Downpours and flooding would be especially severe, lasting for days, if the storm stalls over land.

"All my staff are gone", Thompson said.

And there's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometers) off shore versus heading inland immediately, Landsea said. "The building's solid and Buddha will protect us".

"Everything is packed", Espinoza said.

That's about 220 miles from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. September 14, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Just days before projected landfall, Hurricane Florence is sending residents of the Carolina coast racing for cover.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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