Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Deadly Florence trudges inland in Carolinas with 'epic' rain, flooding

Deadly Florence trudges inland in Carolinas with 'epic' rain, flooding

Members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force search a flooded neighbourhood for evacuees during Hurricane Florence in Fairfield Harbour, North Carolina.

More than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned against such behavior as roads became increasingly unsafe.

In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline, along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

It was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 kph) before its core slogged into coastal SC hours later.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: "This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches". Forecasters said the torrents could continue for days, touching off disastrous flooding.

Travel is extremely hazardous because of storm surge, Trogdon said, and will only get worse.

Florence blew ashore early Friday in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, buckling buildings, deluging entire communities and knocking out power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses as it crawled inland and weakened into a still-lethal tropical storm. Authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.

Jacob Fernandez (left) and Josh Fernandez play around on the tree that fell near their home as Hurricane Florence passed through the area on Friday in Bolivia, N.C.

Authorities also confirmed a 78-year-old man's body was found outside by family after being electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.


A 77-year-old man has also died after apparently being knocked down by the wind when he went out to check on his hunting dogs. SC recorded its first death from the storm when officials said a 61-year-old woman was killed when her vehicle hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

Officials have declared states of emergency in several states, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed-action stage consisting of inland flooding, caused by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.

As it made landfall on the United States southeast coast on Friday, Florence buckled buildings, flooded entire communities and left more than 900,000 homes and businesses without power. "We're going to have to have patience, we're going to have to be careful and we're going to have to deal with a lot of water".

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

"Flood waters are rising, & if you aren't watching for them, you are risking life".

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday. That's enough water to fill the Chesapeake Bay or to cover the state of Texas in 4 inches. That means the storm could easily drop 40 inches of rain in some spots.

Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned on Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more.

In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000, with the downtown area under water. "Nobody expected this", a rescued resident, Tom Ballance, toldThe Weather Channel. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans - who according to polls have a very low opinion of the president - can vote in state elections once they've established residency and registered.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

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