Hurricane Florence: Carolinas brace for life-threatening storm

16 September, 2018, 13:35 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Tony Winborne 37 looks at a computer in a Hurricane Florence evacuation shelter where he says it's

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

The center said the threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days. As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.

As of 11 p.m. EST, Florence was about 50 miles south of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 60 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakening to 70 miles per hour as it pushed inland. A few hearty locals gathered at Cape Fear Wine and Beer pub in downtown Wilmington.

A very slow or meandering movement of Florence will translate to long-duration high winds, storm surge and demolishing wave action. Some roads were already impassable in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

While wind speeds dropped Thursday, forecasters reminded people that what makes Florence extremely unsafe are the potentially deadly storm surges, the expected mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall.

The exact track, overall size and forward speed of the storm will determine which locations along the coast receive the worst of Florence's damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge flooding.

"Make no mistake - whether the eye of the storm makes landfall along our shores or farther south, we're on the wrong side of it", Cooper said. "Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said Thursday.

In Shallotte, N.C., a coastal town near the border with SC, emergency orders forced a Waffle House to shut down - an act that was widely seen as a sign of respect for Florence's imposing size and strength.

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

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been put under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders to avoid what emergency officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm.

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The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland. More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

Staff from across all corners of state government, and some federal officials, have been working at the Emergency Operations Center for 24-hours-a day since Monday.

Wind often gets the headlines, but water is most responsible for deaths in a hurricane.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.

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.

"The storm surge forecast with this storm has not changed", warned Brock Long, the head of FEMA.

Storm surge isn't the only worry associated with the storm, either.

The storm is forecast to creep along the coast, dumping lots of water and lashing the area with winds.

"Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread inland across the remainder of the warning area through Saturday", the NHC said. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit. Tropical Storm Olivia made a double landfall in Hawaii Wednesday morning, first in west Maui then Lanai, KHNL reports.

He said he usually doesn't make the pizzas himself, but he was on Thursday because "everybody is scared", including most of his staff.

In light of the powerful storm, at least 12 Division 1 college football games have been moved or cancelled, according to the NCAA. "This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina". Members of the U.S. National Guard marched in and out of a room nearest the main entrance, their camouflage uniforms standing out in the drab room.

But once New Bern TV news station WCTI evacuated its newsroom Thursday night because of flooding and people began to lose power, the seriousness of the situation began dawning on folks, she said.

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