Florence del­uges Caroli­nas ahead of land­fall

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WILM­ING­TON, North Carolina — Hur­ri­cane Florence bat­tered the Caroli­nas on Fri­day with howl­ing winds, lifethreat­en­ing storm surges and tor­ren­tial rains as it came to close mak­ing land­fall in what of­fi­cials warned is a once in a life­time event.

Fore­cast­ers warned of cat­a­strophic flood­ing and other may­hem from the mon­ster storm, which is only Cat­e­gory 1 but phys­i­cally sprawl­ing and dan­ger­ous.

Re­ports said coastal streets in North Carolina were flooded and winds bent trees to the ground as the storm, which has been down­graded sev­eral times in re­cent days, weak­ened and is slower mov­ing than be­fore, pre­pared to make land­fall on Fri­day.

Nearly 300,000 peo­ple in North Carolina were re­ported to be with­out elec­tric­ity as the outer band of the storm ap­proached.

Footage from TV out­lets showed rag­ing wa­ters hit­ting piers and jet­tys and rush­ing across coastal roads in sea­side com­mu­ni­ties.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter in Mi­ami re­ported “lifethreat­en­ing storm surge and hur­ri­cane-force winds” along the North Carolina coast.

In a dis­play of the early ef­fects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed three me­ters of flood­ing, the NHC said.

With winds pick­ing up along the coast­line ear­lier on Thurs­day, fed­eral and state of­fi­cials had is­sued fi­nal ap­peals to res­i­dents to get out of the path of the “once in a life­time” weather sys­tem.

“This storm will bring de­struc­tion,” North Carolina Gov­er­nor Roy Cooper said. “Cat­a­strophic ef­fects will be felt.”

In Wilm­ing­ton, a steady rain be­gan to fall as gusts of winds in­ten­si­fied, caus­ing trees to sway and stop­lights to flicker.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven chil­dren to a shel­ter in Con­way High School near Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina.

“We live in a mo­bile home so we were just like ‘No way’,” she said. “If we lose the house, oh well, we can get hous­ing.

“But we can’t re­place us so we de­cided to come here.”

Steve Gold­stein of the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion said Florence’s for­ward mo­tion had slowed and it was not ex­pected to make land­fall in the Caroli­nas un­til “some time Fri­day af­ter­noon, Fri­day evening or Satur­day morn­ing”.

Some ar­eas could re­ceive as much as one me­ter of rain, fore­cast­ers said.

“This rain­fall will pro­duce cat­a­strophic flash flood­ing and pro­longed sig­nif­i­cant river flood­ing,” the NHC said.

A tor­nado watch was also in ef­fect for parts of North Carolina.

Brock Long, the ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, warned the danger was not only along the coast: “In­land flood­ing kills a lot of peo­ple, un­for­tu­nately, and that’s what we’re about to see,” he said.

About 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple in North Carolina, South Carolina and Vir­ginia are un­der vol­un­tary or manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders and mil­lions of oth­ers live in ar­eas likely to be af­fected by the storm.

This storm will bring de­struc­tion. Cat­a­strophic ef­fects will be felt.” Roy Cooper,

ED­UARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS

Peo­ple walk on a street as wa­ter from the Neuse River starts flood­ing houses upon Hur­ri­cane Florence com­ing ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, on Thurs­day.

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