Hurricane Florence's onslaught threatens disaster in North Carolina

James Marshall
September 14, 2018

Those numbers will only rise as the slow-moving storm hovers over the region through at least Saturday (Sept. 15), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

According to the BBC, floodwaters may ride up to 13ft (4 metres) and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Brock Long, explained: "So this is a very unsafe storm".

Corps staff worked with Army officials to review dams at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Jackson in SC to "ensure any effects of Florence on those dams are mitigated", said Ray Alexander, the Corps' inter-agency services chief.

Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

The southern portion of the Virginia coast is under a tropical storm warning - from north of Duck, North Carolina, to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. But these winds combined with a giant storm surge and deluge of rain are brewing havoc along the coast. Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Experts are warning people that the most serious threat posed by Florence might just be the massive amount of water it is expected to leave in its wake, from the storm surge that could exceed 13 feet in some areas to a deluge of rainfall that may hit 40 inches in certain pockets. Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey.

After criticism for its response in Puerto Rico to last year's Hurricane Maria, which officials there said was responsible for 3,000 deaths, Trump has vowed a vigorous response to Florence and defended his handling of Maria.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

A statement from the NOAA reads: "The center of the eye of Hurricane Florence was located by an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft and NOAA Doppler radar near latitude 34.2 North, longitude 77.4 West".

Others were at home hoping for the best. But James said she and her family are prepared and stocked up on several items. "We chose to hunker down". We have wind and rain.

She tweeted: "Wind Gusts at Wilmington Intl Airport reached 92 miles per hour, the highest wind gust since Hurricane Donna hit September 11, 1960".

NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland.

The storm is already causing power outages, with Duke Energy reporting almost 240,000 customers have lost power in North and SC - but projects 1 to 3 million people could lose power.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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