Looters arrested as Florence wreaks havoc in North Carolina

Gwen Vasquez
September 16, 2018

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, triggering risky flooding, knocking out power in almost 900,000 homes and businesses, and causing at least eight deaths. Officials said more than 100 people were rescued from floods on Friday, with 60 to 75 awaiting rescue on Saturday. About 400 people have been rescued.

Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

"Many people who think that the storm has missed them have yet to see its threat", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is awesome and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighborhood on Saturday. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet.

"A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house", police tweeted Friday afternoon.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Water from the Neuse river floods houses during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's top sustained winds were holding at 45 miles per hour (75 kph), with higher gusts east of the storm's center.

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage September 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence, now a tropical storm, blew through New Bern, North Carolina.

But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind. With many areas already flooded by seawater, forecasts warned of a period of extensive flooding around the region's winding network of rivers and creeks.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain. Highways and secondary road closures were reported throughout eastern North Carolina.

More news: Hurricane Florence threatens to snarl travel across Mid-Atlantic states

As the storm hovered around eight miles north of Myrtle Beach in SC, residents in the city of Conway, a few miles from the storm's eye, anxious that the Waccamaw river which surrounds the city would soon burst its banks.

At 5 p.m., Florence had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC.

Storm Florence has battered the eastern United States coast with non-stop rain, surging seawater and howling winds. Forecasters say it could become a depression by Saturday night.

Two people were killed in Lenoir County, according to Emergency Services Director Roger Dail during the storm.

- Unsafe conditions from Hurricane Florence have already claimed three lives, including a mother and her newborn child.

"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.

Trees and limbs and other debris have blocked several roads throughout the region, including on major thoroughfares in Wilmington like Oleander Drive, South 17th Street and Independence Boulevard. Wind gusts of 105 miles per hour - the highest recorded since 1958 - were reported in Wilmington Friday morning.

Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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