Final calls to evacuate as Florence buffets US East Coast

Doug Carpenter
September 18, 2018

A 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center announced that storm surge warnings and hurricane warnings are in effect along the coastlines of North and SC, as life-threatening waves barrel toward the shores.

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.

Poverty is an anchor for many in Kinston, home to some of North Carolina's most economically distressed neighborhoods despite its budding reputation as a food destination. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington.

In New Bern, rescue crews saved pulled hundreds of people from flooded homes and still needed to rescue dozens more on Saturday. Strong winds could also spread inland into portions of the Carolinas. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster. But, Hill added, those lane reversals will end soon: "At that point, they'll shut 'em down for the incoming storm". "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

Some Florence evacuees are steering toward Bristol Motor Speedway near the Tennessee-Virginia border and Atlanta Motor Speedway, where campgrounds have been opened for people fleeing the storm. More than one million people had been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".

Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.

Dark clouds hang off the beach of Hatteras Village at the south end of Hatteras Island, NC., on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. But come Thursday, when Hurricane Florence hits, Jasper Newborn, who founded the shelter in 1990, hopes that the city's homeless population fills his shelter's beds. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 miles per hour (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometres) from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometres).

Areas to the north and south of the Carolinas will also feel the impact of the massive storm.

Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and South Carolina Thursday night or Friday.

"Do not focus on the wind speed category of Hurricane Florence!" the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida wanted in a tweet.

The result could be what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farms and industrial sites.

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

- As the east coast of the United States braces for Hurricane Florence, FEMA administrator Brock Long is reportedly under investigation for misusing government resources for travel, an issue that has roiled several other former Trump Cabinet secretaries. If anything, we are more than likely going to have a power outage. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.

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