Hurricane Florence makes landfall in US North Carolina coast

Gwen Vasquez
September 14, 2018

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 225 kph earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying category four to a two.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Pieces of ripped-apart buildings flew through the air.

The storm's maximum sustained winds held at about 90 miles per hour (144 km/h), and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most risky place to be as Florence moved ashore.

Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights.

Federal agencies from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Environmental Protection Agency said they had people near the storm's path to help after the hurricane hit. Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometres from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometres.

"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves, " it said.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington.

"It can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland through the weekend", the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update.

In Jacksonville, next to Camp Lejeune, the Triangle Motor Inn was coming apart early Friday. "Don't plan to leave once the winds and rains start".

Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people were waiting to be rescued from floods on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported. Emergency crews are attempting to respond to more than a hundred calls for rescues.

"This threat will continue into next week", said Jeff Stern, Virginia's state coordinator of emergency management, during a Thursday evening news conference.

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More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

Overnight about 150 people in New Bern, North Carolina, were trapped in their homes and other establishments after rising water due to storm surge reaching 10 feet, according to CNN.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the U.S., including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 900mm of rain, triggering severe flooding.

The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, unsafe surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million more live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.

Florence was seen as a major test for Fema, which was heavily criticised as slow and unprepared previous year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

"This is our only home".

"Fortunately, we haven't found anything that's come down on the house", he said. "We chose to hunker down". Parts of the Carolinas could see 50 cm to 76 cm, with isolated areas getting 101 cm, over seven days along the coast.

So, what can we tell for certain about what the National Weather Service has called the "storm of a lifetime"?

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were inundated.

Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 miles per hour winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching. The vivid presentation - powered by the Unreal Engine, most commonly used in video games - seems likely to serve as a more pressing demonstration of the storm's threat than a mere written warning, and that's vitally important for folks in impacted areas.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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