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Video, Hurricane Florence updates: Carolinas battered by wind, rain

At least 13 killed; more than 300,000 without power; some 20,000 people are staying in more than 150 shelters

  • An abandoned car sits submerged in rising flood waters during pre-dawn hours after Hurricane Florence struck iImage Credit: Reuters
  • Obrad Gavrilovic peers out the window of his flooded home while considering whether to leave with his wife andImage Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
  • First responders from Acme-Delco-Riegelwood Fire Rescue cordon off the area as a car is trapped in rising flooImage Credit: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford
  • A house is seen flooded by rain after Hurricane Florence swept through the town of Wallace, North Carolina, U.Image Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • Water flows along open field in a local farm after Hurricane Florence swept the town of Wallace, North CarolinImage Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • This image obtained from NASA and taken on September 14, 2018, by astronaut Ricky Arnold from the InternationImage Credit: AFP
  • A mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington Image Credit: AFP
  • Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle BeaImage Credit: AP
  • Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten are rescued from floodwaters after Hurricane Florence dumped several inches Image Credit: AP
  • Search and Rescue workers from New York rescue a man from flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in River Bend,Image Credit: Reuters
  • Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during HImage Credit: AFP
  • Surges, flooding will continue as it lashes South CarolinaImage Credit: Facebook
  • A tree in Wilmington, North Carolina, felled by strong winds brought by Hurricane Florence.Image Credit: Charles Peek / Facebook
  • Image Credit: Facebook
  • A family is stalled in water as they wait to be rescued during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town oImage Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • A member of the US Army walks in water while rescuing people during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the tImage Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • Felled trees and other debris cover a car during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, NoImage Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • A downed tree blocks a local street during the passing of Hurricane Florence the town of New Bern, North CarolImage Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team rescue a man with chest pains from his flooded home SeptembeImage Credit: AFP
  • Ethan Hall, right, Michael Jenkins, center, and Nash Fralick, left, examine damage to Tidewater Brewing Co. inImage Credit: AP
  • Rescue workers and volunteers help rescue a woman and her dog from their flooded home.Image Credit: AFP

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP): The end of the storm known as Florence is still several days away, but emergency officials already are thinking about the North Carolina recovery.

Nonprofit groups are preparing to serve tens of thousands of meals daily in the most-damaged areas. And state and federal emergency officials are locating temporary housing, including hotel rooms, for storm victims as shelters close.

About 20,000 people are staying in more than 150 shelters. Many of them won't be able to go back home for good soon because their homes are unlivable.

The recovery is likely to take at least as long as for Hurricane Matthew, which crossed North Carolina nearly two years ago.

13 people killed

At least 13 people, including a mother and her infant, were killed as Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas with howling winds, life-threatening storm surges and torrential rains.

Officials warned that it is a once-in-a-ifetime event. 

A mandatory evacuation order was put in place for anyone who lives within a mile of the banks of North Carolina's Cape Fear River and Little River.

Officials from Cumberland County, Fayetteville and the town of Wade issued the order early Saturday afternoon, saying residents there face "imminent danger" from flood waters expected to arrive in the area soon.


Residents are being asked to leave immediately. Officials said flood waters from other areas are accumulating north of the county and filling the river basins beyond their capacities. They asked that the evacuation begin immediately and that everyone within the evacuation areas get out by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Seven emergency shelters are open in the county.

Inflatable boats used to rescue the stranded

Emergency workers went door to door urging people to flee Florence's rising waters and used inflatable boats to rescue others as the storm practically parked itself over land and poured on the rain Saturday, raising fears that North Carolina could be in for the most disastrous flooding in its history.


The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm climbed to at least five.

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 mph winds, more than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1= feet by the end of the weekend.

Rivers and creeks rose toward historic levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

"I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them you are risking your life," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Floodwaters still a threat

The governor of North Carolina on Saturday warned residents displaced by a killer storm against returning home because of the dangers posed by rising floodwaters.

"Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood," said Governor Roy Cooper. "This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: in some places, measured in feet, not inches."


He added that five deaths have been officially confirmed as a result of Florence - which made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm - and that several others were under investigation.

Florence's top sustained winds have weakened to 75km/h

Tropical Storm Florence continues to weaken as it dumps dangerous amounts of rain across the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's top sustained winds have weakened to 75km/h.

At 11am Saturday (US local time), Florence was moving west at 4km/h, with its center located about  65 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The storm's extremely slow speed means the risk of catastrophic flooding remains high across both states. Some areas are forecast to receive up to 15 inches more rain, and storm totals could reach over 3 feet in some areas for the week.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says areas such as New Bern, North Carolina, could also see additional storm surge as high tide combines with the ocean waters still being pushed ashore by Florence's outer bands.

Surges, flooding will continue as it lashes South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (AP): Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, but storm surges, flooding will continue as it lashes North and South Carolina.

Sixty-five mile-per-hour winds are blowing across the region, and some areas are projected to see as much as 40 inches of rain. 

As of late Friday evening, some parts of South Carolina had already seen 14 inches of rain. Florence has become a slow but large, and intensely rainy storm. Its relatively slower speed means it will likely hover over coastal regions for longer than it would have if it were moving faster, said US weathermen.

Name of imageRescue workers from Township No. 7 Fire Department and volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help rescue a woman and her dog from their flooded home during Hurricane Florence in James City, North Carolina, US. AFP

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain forced hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers.   

Name of imageA member of the US Army wades in water while rescuing people during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, US. Reuters

'The water kept rising': Residents overwhelmed by flooding

New Bern, North Carolina: A combination of heavy rains from Florence and a high tide has caused massive flooding in a historic North Carolina city near the coast.

Name of imageA family is stalled in water as they wait to be rescued during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, US.  Reuters

AP reported that more than 360 people in New Bern were rescued late on Friday and others were still waiting for help hours after then-Hurricane Florence swept in.

Most of the city is without power and city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts says thousands of buildings have been damaged. The city is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.

Ferocious winds, rising floodwaters

Early on Saturday, social media users posted videos showing ferocious winds and rising floodwaters.


A 1-minute video uploaded on Facebook showed ferocious floodwaters rising to the top of home windows in Belhaven, North Carolina, brought by Hurricane Florence. 

'Uninvited brute': 4 dead as Florence drenches the Carolinas

6.45am (Saturday)

In Wilmington,North Carolina, AP reported that the typhoon was blowing ashore with howling 90 mph (144 km/h) winds, adding that the hurricane splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast. It said that this could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.

AP reported at least four people were killed, including a child.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3 feet as the storm crawls westward across North and South Carolina could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

12.09am (Saturday)

First fatalities: Mother and her infant

A mother and her infant were killed Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence sent a tree crashing into their home, authorities said. The two are believed to be the first victims of the storm that has barreled into the state with powerful winds, sending ocean water surging over streets and into homes as rescue crews rush to save stranded people.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said late on Friday. "It's an uninvited brute that doesn't want to leave."

9.55pm (Friday)

9.01pm

Hundreds rescued

Emergency crews rescued hundreds of stranded people on Friday as Hurricane Florence pounded the US East Coast with driving rain, howling winds and dangerous storm surge.


"The storm is wreaking havoc on our state," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. "We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away."

Some of the worst flooding from the monster storm was in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, where the Neuse River overflowed its banks, flooding streets and trapping many people in their homes.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the New Bern authorities said on Twitter.

Governor Cooper said no fatalities had been reported yet but there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to."

"Rescue workers are working in dangerous conditions that will only get worse today," he said.

Cooper said the Neuse River had seen storm surge as high as 10 feet (three meters) and the amount of rainfall was a "1,000-year event."

He said 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state.

7.13pm

Trees, power lines down

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

The city woke Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions.

Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. "The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland," he said.

6.03pm

5.01pm

3.45pm

Florence makes landfall

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.

High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro, North Carolina. AP

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 9 kp/h and still drawing energy from the ocean.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore, the National Hurricane Center said.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and more than 460,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometers from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out to 315 kilometers.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina as Hurricane Florence approaches the area. AP

Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina, hitting state with life-threatening rainfall.  

2.45pm

Water rescues underway

Lifesaving water rescues are underway and local officials were reporting major structural damage and power outages.

The storm surge had reached 7 feet on Emerald Isle, North Carolina, and could climb as high as 11 feet elsewhere, while rainfall up to 40 inches is expected to bring widespread inland flooding.

About 150 people awaited rescue early Friday in the riverfront city of New Bern, North Carolina. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the city wrote on Twitter.

2.13pm

Hurricane Florenece set to make landfall

In this Sept. 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the U.S. east coast as seen from the International Space Station. AP

The powerful storm already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.

2pm

Hurricane Florence eye 10 miles from Wilmington

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

1:50 pm

70 people rescued from a hotel

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

None of the people rescued were injured.

Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas.

12:25pm

Around 150 people waiting to be rescued

A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts tells WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been rescued.

The National Hurricane Center says the Neuse River near the city is recording more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) of inundation. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.

The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you."

11:30am

Life-threatening storm surge

Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington.

As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

10 am

Freshwater flooding

The National Hurricane Center says that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

As of 2 am (US local time), Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

7am

Coastal streets flooded

Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and more is to come.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Monster storm to trigger life-threatening flooding 

The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday as forecasters warned the monster storm would trigger life-threatening flooding as it assaults the US east coast.

As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and South Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

"This storm will bring destruction," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. "Catastrophic effects will be felt."

UAE Embassy issues advisory

Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening slightly - remains a "very dangerous storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.

"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).

Warning of looming storm surges of 2.7 to 3.6 metres, he urged residents to take the storm seriously no matter the category, saying "this is all about the water anyway."

Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale but it is still packing hurricane-force winds of 155 kilometres per hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Winds were already picking up along the coastline early Thursday and some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, and in some seaside coastal towns.

People flee from coast

Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

And in Wilmington, North Carolina, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified, causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way,'" she said. "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing."

"But we can't replace us so we decided to come here."

Monster storm surge expected

At 5pm (1am UAE), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 160 kilometres east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at eight kilometres per hour, the NHC said.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning."

He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 130 kilometres from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend nearly 320 kilometres out.

Some areas could receive as much as 100cm of rain, forecasters said.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding," the NHC said.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

"This is a very dangerous storm," said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.

"Your time is running out," he warned.

Long said the danger was not only along the coast. "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see," he said.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by what officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm.

South Carolina ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina announced an evacuation of the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were told to flee.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia – as well as the US capital Washington.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

'Catastrophic effects'

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

"The shelters are not taking dogs," Ramirez said. "I'm not leaving him here.

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine – $2 for a 7.2-kilo bag.

"I have no generator," said Petra Langston, a nurse. "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine."

- with inputs from agencies

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