Hurricane "Florence" reached the coast in the Eastern United States

Sep 16, 2018, 19:38
Hurricane

Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas Friday with howling winds, life-threatening storm surges and torrential rains as it came to close making landfall in what officials warned is a once in a lifetime event.

The Category 1 storm's winds have weakened in intensity as it neared the coast, but forecasters say the real hazard from the storm will most likely be the rains and flooding as the storm moves southwest into SC before turning north. It's expected to be well past major flood stage (19 feet) from Sunday morning into at least Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Sapped power to almost 437,000 customers in North and SC, emergency officials said.

Rescuers are assisted by the Cajun Navy volunteer rescue group, Gene Hodges, assistant county manager with Craven County government, told NPR's Brakkton Booker.

More than 1,300 flights for Friday had been canceled along the East Coast.

New Bern's WCTI television employees fled their studio Thursday night due to rising flood waters.

"There's already water (in the) bottom part of people's houses", said Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, on Thursday night.

Its surge could cover most of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3ft of rain, touching off severe flooding. States of emergency have already been declared in both North and SC.

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This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 at 5:52 p.m. EDT.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

About 70 people in Jacksonville, North Carolina, had to be moved to safety from a hotel whose structural integrity was threatened by the hurricane.

The worst also is likely yet to come for Conway, about 15 miles inland from Myrtle Beach in neighboring SC.

Thankfully, they said, the new roof held up for Florence.

Two men were also killed in Lenoir County, North Carolina.

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

Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state. They later clarified those deaths were not related to Florence. "We have an old jail building, and there was a sally port where vehicles could drive down into it", she says.

More news: Latest Updates on Hurricane Florence and the Storm's Impact on Travel

Those who stayed behind gave harrowing accounts of getting trapped in their homes surrounded by water. Rescue crews have used boats to reach hundreds besieged by the rising waters.

As they waited for emergency workers, they heard neighbors screaming for help.

"The rainfall is going to be the big impact for the area", Hawkins said.

"The sheer size of the tree was not something you could quickly cut with a chain saw", Mason said.

FEMA operates rescue teams with boats and helicopters, but the continued intense weather may hamper efforts while the storm remains strong.

Officials in several states declared a state of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas were still recovering from summer storms.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast. That advisory came out on August 30, when Florence was developing near the Cabo Verde Islands across the Atlantic.

As it moves near OH and West Virginia, it will become a remnant low.

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