Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Hurricane Florence starts its prolonged assault on the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence starts its prolonged assault on the Carolinas

US Southeast power companies said more than 188,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and SC were without power early Friday as Hurricane Florence caused a deluge ahead of its landfall later in the day.

Even if you didn't know that the powerful storm is forecast to gain strength as it hits the coast on Friday, or that it will dump several months of rain onto the region in a mere few days, or that the storm surge could reach as high as 9 to 13 ft.

The outer bands of the cyclone drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage it could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday.

Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours, because Florence was barely creeping along and still drawing energy from the ocean.

She also said residents don't need to live next to a river or creek to experience catastrophic flooding in their basements. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that".

"Growing confidence that Southeast SC will experience a [prolonged] period of tropical storm winds and heavy rain Friday - Saturday from #Florence".

Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said.

The images, captured from249 miles above the storm, captured Florence as it draws close to North Carolina's coast.

By early evening, almost 70,000 residents were without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands have moved to emergency shelters.


The fates of the region's furry, feathered and finned friends were also up in the air, as staffers scrambled to secure zoos, aquariums and animal shelters.

At the 500-acre North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, workers shepherded a menagerie including elephants, giraffes and chimpanzees indoors, forming a sort of modern-day, stationary Noah's Ark to ride out the flood. The vivid presentation - powered by the Unreal Engine, most commonly used in video games - seems likely to serve as a more pressing demonstration of the storm's threat than a mere written warning, and that's vitally important for folks in impacted areas. "That's why we're begging for assistance".

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

As the last-minute evacuations and preparations of those who refuse to leave wound down, an eerie calm has settled over typically bustling Carolina cities.

Spokeswoman Diane Villa said some of the larger animals - including bison and elk - will be put in fenced-in yards instead of barns because they do not like being in fully enclosed spaces.

"It's really risky out right now", Beaufort, NC, Mayor Everette Newton told CNN.

By Thursday afternoon, all flight operations were halted at a half-dozen airports along the coast of the Carolinas, and scattered cancellations were reported at other airports.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said.

"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Cat 2, please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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