Saturday, 19 January, 2019


Hurricane Florence bears down on Carolinas

Hannah Rogers | 15 September, 2018, 08:13

Forecasters warn of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding".

"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said. The slow-moving, hurricane - downgraded to a tropical storm around 5 p.m. Friday - is expected to linger over the area this weekend continuing to create a risky situation.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center.

"Heavy rain has been occurring in and around Oriental, North Carolina, where 20.37 inches of rainfall has been measured thus far", the National Hurricane Center said in an update.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

Regarding the possibility of a storm surge, Jones said, "Everyone has to be on the lookout for that, however, the way our house sits, it's elevated". As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go".

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier island chain, had already received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Service said.

"And it's just a Category 1 hurricane", Tarr said.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

Florence's eyewall reached shore near Wilmington, N.C., just before 6 a.m. ET Friday; more than an hour later, the National Hurricane Center announced, it had "finally" made landfall near Wrightsville Beach.

By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.

Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". The storm's winds, however, fell to 75 miles per hour by 1:50 p.m.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.

It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.

These types of slow-moving storms - like Hurricane Harvey - can be particularly unsafe because of the rain and flooding they can bring.

"More people die from storm surge than any proponent of hurricanes", Kottlowsk tells TIME.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

After creeping inland, Florence is expected to head west before looping up toward Tennessee and Kentucky early next week.

Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized.

While many sought shelter - about 26,000 people took refuge in 100 shelters and at the 14,000-seat Joel Colisseum in Winston-Salem - others ignored warnings or headed to nearby hotels.

The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials anxious.

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