'Catastrophic' flooding expected in Carolinas

Erika Navarro 3D weather

And the region has about a 50 percent chance of seeing sustained tropical storm-force winds (39 miles per hour or higher).

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

"The heavy rains and high winds are likely to spread across North Carolina and linger for days".

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause enormous damage similar to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses. "But I think we're ready".

At landfall, Florence was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence became a deadly storm Friday, claiming three lives in Hampstead and Wilmington as it roared into, and stalled over, the Wilmington region.

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

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did. "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns".

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.

At 2 a.m. Friday, the city tweeted an ominous message, saying at least 150 people were awaiting rescue.

"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.

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More than 80,000 people in North Carolina already were without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

In its 1200 GMT advisory, the center said Florence was packing winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph) and moving northwest at 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour).

Some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

"Just dozens of calls just saying, 'the water is coming in the house, the water is now over the hood of my vehicle".

There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

Over half a million homes and businesses were without power by mid morning in North and SC and utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration efforts could take weeks.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center briefing said. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

The drama was unfolding in the riverfront town of New Bern, which was hit by a huge storm surge as the sprawling Category 1 hurricane came close to making landfall.

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit the FOX 46 Resource Center. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries, but authorities said more than 100 people were rescued further north in New Bern, where the downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was under water. Rainfall of up to 20 to 40 inches could fall over the next five days in some areas, forecasters say. Mason said the two victims, who were not identified, died before they could be freed.

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