Florence's 'violent grind' leaves at least four dead in Carolinas

by Fredrick Graves September 16, 2018, 18:56
Florence's 'violent grind' leaves at least four dead in Carolinas

More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water.

"Catastrophic effects will be felt".

With Hurricane Florence approaching and being followed by many other tropical storms, knowledge can help keep you and your family safe.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago.

On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds (193 km).

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.

Elsewhere in Wilmington, Linda Smith, a 67-year-old retired nonprofit director, was concerned as she watched wind gusts stir up frothy white caps on the Cape Fear River.

One person died at the West Brunswick High School shelter Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson for Brunswick County.

That was a bad idea, said Avair Vereen, a local nurse who had sought safety in the shelter with her seven children. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".

Residents and business owners around downtown came out from their hiding places as early as 8:30 a.m. Friday, about an hour after the eyewall of Florence had passed through.

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As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's (560 km) slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days.

"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, warning people not to be complacent just because the storm's winds had diminished. North Carolina will likely see eight months' worth of rain in two to three days, said National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear in a video briefing.

The NHC went on to say that a few tornadoes could form in eastern and southeastern North Carolina into Friday. He asked citizens in danger zones to heed warnings because "your time is running out". Further development of that system is no longer anticipated, the NHC said. "It's going to be a devastating time for many, many people up and down the coast", as she removed items from an office and moved boats into a cove.

About 10 million people live in the storm's path and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

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

Mayor Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN traffic out of the SC city has more than quadrupled as residents and visitors evacuate. Georgia, where governor Nathan Deal has now declared an emergency, is also thought to be in the firing line.

"Because of the size of the storm we are going to see impacts to nearly every customer in north Carolina", Davis Montgomery, the district manager for Duke Energy, said.

Officials have said they are taking precautions to protect sensitive sites.

"I've got everybody from nuclear scientists to doctors to search and rescue specialists to sheltering specialists to politicians right here in the [Emergency Operations Center]", Sprayberry says.

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