Sci-tech

Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas ahead of landfall

Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas ahead of landfall

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Hundreds more were rescued elsewhere from rising water. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU" the city's Twitter page announced.

More than 370,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, state officials said. He called the rain an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.

In all, the weather service says the greatest amounts of rain from Florence are likely in the southwestern portions of the region.

Another Wilmington resident said she does not want to leave because she is afraid to see what she would be coming back to.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 70 mph as it moved forward at 3 mph about 15 miles north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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More than 10 million people live in areas under warnings or watches for hurricane- or tropical storm- force winds, CNN reports . More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

Top winds were holding at 90 miles per hour - that's just a Category 1 hurricane - but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than three feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

At least 150,000 people were without power in North Carolina early Friday with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to utility companies.

Hurricane Florence was only 10 miles east of Wilmington, N.C., as it approached landfall early Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet high as Florence churned toward shore. Parts of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

The NWS reported "lots of tree damage, debris and power lines down" across Harkers Island, N.C. Gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighborhoods. Roof shingles were peeled off a hotel. At 90 miles per hour, its wind speed was dipping but still risky. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts tells WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been rescued.

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It has trapped people in flooded homes as citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state join local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.

The storm is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas and bring more than 20 inches of rain, including 40 inches in some part.

Florence also blew down trees. "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing".

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out.

In South Carolina, 155,000 customers are without power, officials said. Days ahead of the storm, about 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were warned to evacuate before its outer bands reached the coast Thursday. It is forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday Friday.

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