Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas

More than 60 people, including many children and pets, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse, local officials said.

From Thursday night through Sunday morning, CNN reported that Florence would travel only 150 miles, or slower than the average walking pace of 2-3 mph.

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners.

The storm surge is going to be potentially life-threatening for some areas along the U.S. coastline.

The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore.

"Catastrophic flash and eventually river flooding remains the primary concern as Florence continues to drift inland slowly across central (North Carolina)", the National Weather Service's Raleigh office tweeted Friday afternoon.

The deadliest and most destructive element of any hurricane, the storm surge from Florence could flood tens of thousands of structures, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 100 miles per hour (160 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.

"A USGS gauge in Emerald Isle, N.C., recently recorded 6.1 feet above normal water levels", the National Hurricane Center said of the storm surge early Friday.

Except - and we don't mean to jinx it - but the storm *is* heading further south from here and the wind did die down a bit so who is to say it didn't work entirely?

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., at 7:15 a.m. ET, creeping slowly ashore - but bringing strong winds, a massive storm surge and a rain system that will soak much of the state and SC for days.

"Even a small prediction error could have major impacts", he said. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Authorities in New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people that dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire. But with a storm surge putting pressure on water to head back inland and heavy rains swelling those rivers, widespread flooding is the result.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to three-quarters of a million homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend. North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia were expected to be hit with the brunt of the Category 3 storm.

On Thursday, Trump faced criticism for disputing the official death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricanes Maria and Irma that hit previous year.

"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said. "I'm not sure if it's a shift in the wind or low tide - but the water has miraculously disappeared".

  • Joey Payne