4 dead as Hur­ri­cane Florence drenches the Caroli­nas

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Jonathan Drew

WILM­ING­TON, N.C. » Blow­ing ashore with howl­ing

90 mph (155 kph) winds, Florence splin­tered build­ings, trapped hun­dreds of peo­ple and swamped en­tire com­mu­ni­ties along the Carolina coast Fri­day in what could be just the open­ing act in a wa­tery, two-part, slow-mo­tion dis­as­ter. At least four peo­ple were killed.

Fore­cast­ers warned that drench­ing rains of 1 to 3½ feet (30 cen­time­ters to 1 me­ter) as the hur­ri­cane­turned-trop­i­cal storm crawls west­ward across North and South Carolina could trig­ger epic flood­ing well in­land over the next few days.

As 400-mile-wide

(645-kilo­me­ter-wide) Florence pounded away at the coast with tor­ren­tial down­pours and surg­ing seas, res­cue crews used boats to reach more than 360 peo­ple be­sieged

by ris­ing wa­ters in New Bern, while many of their neigh­bors awaited help. More than 60 peo­ple had to be res­cued in an­other town as a cin­derblock mo­tel col­lapsed at the height of the storm’s fury.

Florence flat­tened trees, crum­bled roads and the as­sault wasn’t any­where close to be­ing over, with the siege in the Caroli­nas ex­pected to last all week­end. The storm knocked out power to more than 880,000 homes and busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to power­outage.us, which tracks the U.S. elec­tri­cal grid.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an “un­in­vited brute” that could wipe out en­tire com­mu­ni­ties as it grinds across the state.

“The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an end­ing,” Cooper said. Parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges — the bulge of sea­wa­ter pushed ashore by the hur­ri­cane — as high as 10 feet

(3 me­ters), he said. A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, ac­cord­ing to a tweet from Wilm­ing­ton po­lice. Also, a 77-yearold man was ap­par­ently knocked down by the wind and died af­ter go­ing out to check on his hunt­ing dogs, Lenoir County au­thor­i­ties said, and the gover­nor’s of­fice said a man was elec­tro­cuted while try­ing to con­nect ex­ten­sion cords in the rain.

Shaken af­ter see­ing waves crash­ing on the Neuse River just out­side his house in New Bern, restau­rant owner and hur­ri­cane vet­eran Tom Bal­lance wished he had evac­u­ated.

“I feel like the dumb­est hu­man be­ing who ever walked the face of the earth,” he said.

Af­ter reach­ing a ter­ri­fy­ing Cat­e­gory 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) ear­lier in the week, Florence made land­fall as a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilo­me­ters) east of Wilm­ing­ton and not far from the South Carolina line. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emp­tied-out stretch of coast­line.

By Fri­day evening, Florence was down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm, its winds weak­en­ing to 70 mph (112 kph) as it pushed in­land. But it was clear that this was re­ally about the wa­ter, not the wind.

Florence’s for­ward move­ment dur­ing the day slowed to a near-stand

HUR­RI­CANE » PAGE 19

CHRIS SE­WARD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Res­cue team mem­ber Sgt. Nick Muhar, from the North Carolina Na­tional Guard 1/120th bat­tal­ion, evac­u­ates a young child as the ris­ing flood­wa­ters from Hur­ri­cane Florence threat­ens his home in New Bern, N.C., on Fri­day.

ALLEN G. BREED - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The mast of a sunken boat sits at a dock at the Grand View Ma­rina in New Bern, N.C., on Fri­day. Winds and rains from Hur­ri­cane Florence caused the Neuse River to swell, swamp­ing the coastal city.

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