Monday, 10 December, 2018

At least 4 dead as Florence downgraded to Tropical Storm

A car goes through a flooded street during the heavy rain of outer bands of Hurricane Florence in New Bern North Carolina U 'Life-threatening' Hurricane Florence lashing Carolinas
Jeannette Daniel | 15 September, 2018, 14:43

"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful".

Rain, wind and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence swamped the Carolinas early today as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people with record rainfall.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina at about 7:30 on Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the USA electrical grid.

Helping with rescues there were members of the so-called Cajun Navy, a group of Louisiana-based volunteers who became famous during last year's Hurricane Harvey, locals said on Twitter.

The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you".

Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water in residential neighborhoods.

"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Sandie Orsa, of Wilmington, who fears splintering trees will destroy her home.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview. Moreover, the Carolinas have not seen such a storm since the 1980s.

More trees will come down, more power lines will fall, and the number of power outages will go up, said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.

More news: "Once In A Lifetime" Hurricane Florence Weakens, Begins Lashing Eastern US

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

By early afternoon, its winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -Florence already has proven deadly with its almost nonstop rain, surging seawater and howling winds, and the threat is days from ending as remnants of the once major hurricane slowly creep inland across the Carolinas.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington with her family as the hurricane filled the streets with floodwaters.

Her husband went to see if he could assist them but the water was chest high, she said. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos * a href="https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleNC.gov/?tn-str=k*F" target="_blank" rel="noopener" *of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked".

As Florence raged, a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain to already saturated areas along the Texas coast, resulting in street flooding and prompting some schools to cancel or cut short classes.

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