Hurricane Center: Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.

  • Published 14.09.18
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Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach of North Carolina. (AP)

North Carolina, Sept.14 (AP): Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.

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. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours, because Florence was barely creeping along and still drawing energy from the ocean.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore near Wrightsville Beach, the National Hurricane Center said.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water and tens of thousands lost electricity. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Image provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the east coast of USA as seen from the International Space Station. (AP)

The storm's intensity held at about 144 kph, and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most dangerous place to be as Florence moved ashore.

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet of inundation. Emerald Isle is about 135 kilometers north of Wilmington.

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. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. The homes of about 10 million were under watche or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 225 kph, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

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