rain
Thursday November 15th, 2018 1:58PM
8:41AM ( 5 hours ago ) Weather Alert

'Uninvited brute': Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas

By The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 mph winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, splintering buildings and trapping hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm. Hundreds more had to be rescued elsewhere from rising waters. Others could only wait and hope someone would come for them.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU."

As the giant, 400-mile-wide hurricane pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75 mph, just barely a hurricane, but the storm itself had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, punishing coastal communities for hours on end. The town of Oriental had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.

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

Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days." He said parts of the state had seen storm surges — the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane — as high as 10 feet.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across South Carolina later in the day, in a drenching that could go on all weekend.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which had dropped off from an alarming 140 mph — Category 4 — earlier in the week. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland in the Carolinas over the next few days.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared last year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for nearly 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind. Roof shingles were peeled off a hotel.

Hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers). The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 mph (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958, the weather service said.

Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people. Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer about 200 had been rescued by 5 a.m. Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media.

Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.

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

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying," said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

___

Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Jeffrey Collins in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Skip Foreman in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jeff Martin in Hampton, Georgia; David Koenig in Dallas; Gerry Broome at Nags Head, North Carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.

___

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Officials work to pinpoint cause of 'Armageddon'-like blasts
Investigators are working to pinpoint the cause of a series of dramatic natural gas explosions that killed a teenager, injured at least 25 others and left dozens of homes in smoldering ruins
12:34PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Kavanaugh denies allegation of sexual misconduct in school
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied a sexual misconduct allegation from when he was in high school
12:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Boat sirens wail, Genoa pauses, month after bridge collapse
Genoa has paused for a moment of silence in memory of 43 dead a month after its key highway bridge collapsed
12:29PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
'Uninvited brute': Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas
Hurricane Florence has lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 mph winds and terrifying storm surge, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses
12:14PM ( 35 minutes ago )
The Latest: Firefighters responded to 60 to 80 fires
The head of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency says firefighters responded to 60 to 80 structure fires in the three communities affected by a series of natural gas explosions
11:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Paul Manafort has 'cooperation agreement'
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has cut a "cooperation agreement" with prosecutors and intends to plead guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian consulting work
11:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: NTSB responds to area of gas explosions
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to Massachusetts to investigate a series of gas explosions blames for one death and dozens of fires
8:47AM ( 4 hours ago )
'It looked like Armageddon:' Deadly gas blasts destroy homes
A series of gas explosions killed a teen and left at least 10 other people injured, one critically, and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday
8:43AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: 400,000 lose power, many flooded by Florence
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina
8:18AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
AP Online - Georgia News
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
Officials work to pinpoint cause of 'Armageddon'-like blasts
Investigators are working to pinpoint the cause of a series of dramatic natural gas explosions that killed a teenager, injured at least 25 others and left dozens of homes in smoldering ruins
12:34PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Kavanaugh denies allegation of sexual misconduct in school
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied a sexual misconduct allegation from when he was in high school
12:33PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Boat sirens wail, Genoa pauses, month after bridge collapse
Genoa has paused for a moment of silence in memory of 43 dead a month after its key highway bridge collapsed
12:29PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Cuomo lauds primary victory, says voters want results
In his first public remarks following his victory in a Democratic primary, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cited his big win over Cynthia Nixon as evidence that liberal voters want results, not rhetoric
12:28PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: Turkey reinforces security posts in north Syria
A senior official says political advisers of the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany agree that a solution for the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib should be a political, rather than military, one
12:27PM ( 23 minutes ago )