Hurricane Florence rolls ashore in Carolinas, tears buildings apart

Glen Norman
September 15, 2018

WILMINGTON: Florence barreled into the Carolina coast and moved inland on Friday, knocking down trees, overflowing rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leading to the death of five people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.

Once Florence is off the area's radar, though, there are a number of locations in Hampton Roads accepting extra nonperishable supplies residents may have.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are the early warnings of the days to come", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters just before the hurricane made landfall. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain while another man died when he was knocked down by high winds while checking on his dogs.

More than 615,849 customers have lost power as of 2 pm Friday, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. "People who live in New Bern have experienced hurricanes before, but it has been a long time since we have experienced something like this".

"This is a slow-moving monster who still has a lot of chaos to deliver".

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.


"Cash donations go further and make a greater impact and easier to get to the harder hit areas", said Charvalla West, community resource center manager for the United Way of Williamsburg.

It appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore.

The hurricane center predicts as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. Those speeds will remain consistent until winds die down Sunday.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

The mayor said at least 4,200 homes and 300 businesses sustained damage from flooding.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year.


The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 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. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

Hundreds of people needed to be rescued after becoming trapped in their homes by a storm surge of up to 10 feet (three meters) in New Bern, a town of 30,000 in North Carolina at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers. "We've got some roof issues, parts of roof are coming off and we've got some fences coming down". Many were located in the Midlands, as 1,224 of the outages were reported in Richland County, and 77 more in Lexington County. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited help.

"I honestly cried", Kittrell said.

"(Its) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.


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