Hurricane Florence pummels Carolinas; residents take shelter

We know how to manage expectations. "We're ready. We're as ready as anybody has ever been".

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which had dropped off from an alarming 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles out.

Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean.

Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded. "And it's basically a big hole and water did go into that hole, but we are safe in this facility".

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

"The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's getting worse", Cooper said, calling Florence a "thousand-year rain event".

In aggregate, this can have serious repercussions for businesses that aren't dedicated to fixing up cars and clearing water damage: according to one estimate, retailers suffered $1 billion in negative impacts from Hurricane Harvey and almost $2.8 billion from Hurricane Irma, including damage to stores and warehouses as well as lost sales. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said.

The hurricane has darkened the skies and homes of hundreds of thousands of residents of both North & South Carolina.

"Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Florence on September 14 at 7:41 a.m. EDT minutes after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina packing winds of 90 miles an hour", NASA said in a video description.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm will eventually push westward and make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic region and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

There is really nowhere for the water to go.

There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says. Here are snapshots of people struggling to cope with the slow-grinding storm.

"This is going to be a very trying period for the state", he said."We're liable to have flash floods, bridges and roads washed out".

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, there are 5.25 million residents in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places under tropical storm warnings or watches. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". It will likely weaken more on Friday, with "rapid weakening forecast over the weekend", the hurricane center said.

The National Hurricane Center says the tempest remains extremely unsafe because of the high volume of rainfall and predicted storm surges, even though its wind speeds lowered slightly on Thursday night, making it a category one hurricane. Its storm surges are expected to be catastrophic when they hit.

By mid-afternoon the winds had dropped to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and the center was moving west at 6 miles per hour (10 kph), the NHC said, and parts of North and SC would get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter). Rainfall of up to 20 to 40 inches could fall over the next five days in some areas, forecasters say.

  • Joey Payne