Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas

Howard TerrySep 15, 2018

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 964,000 customers in that state and SC.

In South Carolina, more than 200 animals are riding out Hurricane Florence at a pet sanctuary.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm as of the 11 p.m. Thursday update from the National Hurricane Center but it is still a unsafe storm.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

After the slow-moving storm officially made landfall, it continued dumping heavy rain over parts of North Carolina.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and risky.

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

More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught would last for hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 6 mph (9 kph) and still drawing energy from the ocean.

Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

Earlier Saturday, officials in North Carolina's Carteret County said two other people were dead as a result of the storm.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph. Forecasters warned of "catastrophic" freshwater flooding along the Carolinas.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.

"We tell them to remain calm, not to panic, we will rescue them", Roberts said.

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

Some areas could exceed 30 to 40 inches of rain from the storm.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m.

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, South Carolina on September 12, 2018.

A fallen tree crashed through the home where a woman and her baby were killed in Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday.

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 weather service later measured a storm surge 10ft deep in the city, which lies on the Neuse River near the Atlantic coast. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).

"High winds and severe flooding from Hurricane Florence will impede the pace of our outage restoration efforts".

But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

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

Florence was seen as a major test for FEMA, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths.

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