Monday, 24 September, 2018

Florence disaster declared in North Carolina as flooding threat grows

The shelter of a petrol station lies on the ground in Wilmington The hurricane has torn buildings apart and hundreds have been trapped by rising water
Samantha Long | 16 September, 2018, 05:15

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. The storm is expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolinas and the Ohio Valley by Monday, the NHC said early on Saturday.

Florence could become a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared previous year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

By Saturday morning the winds weakened to 50mph but the storm's slow speed means that communities in North Carolina are receiving a prolonged battering by torrential rain. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had around 7 inches (18 centimeters).

Southwestern Virginia is also expecting up to 10in (25cm).

Relief will not come quickly.

A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at 105 miles per hour (nearly 170 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste.

Heavy rains and storm surge created destructive flooding of several feet throughout the Carolina coast.

There is really nowhere for the water to go.

Resident Jay Manning said he and his wife watched with alarm as water filled the street. We know how to manage expectations.

About 100 people still need to be rescued in New Bern, North Carolina, where some 4200 homes have been damaged, the mayor told CNN.

Three medical centers have been set up in North Carolina.

It already had, in Beaufort County and its capital city, Washington, where 300 people were rescued from flooded homes.

Florence downgraded to tropical storm, but will continue to threaten Carolinas
Two people died in Lenoir County. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU". Police say a family of three was in a home on Mercer Avenue this morning around 9:30 when a tree fell into the property.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard that, trying to get out, we got thrown into trailers". We got thrown into mailboxes.

Governor Cooper advised North Carolina residents inland that rivers will rise days after the rain has stopped.

"So dramatic!" wrote the Twitter user who posted the clip, which was viewed almost 18 million times as of Saturday afternoon.

Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man perished when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.

Officials in SC said a 61-year-old woman died when her vehicle struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near the town of Union. That could affect the infrastructure, bridges, residences, farms and other buildings, Dahler said.

The hurricane was "wreaking havoc" and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days", the governor said. "Be extremely careful and stay alert".

Florence drove almost 1 million people from their homes and almost 700,000 lost power.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

Usually hurricanes this far north deliver their punch and quickly leave town. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 miles per hour, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

The coast has been battered, and the mountains appear to be next.

It wouldn't be the first time hogs contributed to flooding woes in North Carolina.

The Cape Fear River has overrun its banks, allowing water to pour into the downtown area of Wilmington. Flash floods can materialize within minutes of intense rain as the water rushes down hillsides.

"You evacuate from water", Cline said. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. Flash flooding is a threat in those states as well.

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