Running Out Of Cots, North Carolina Shelters Strained As Florence Hits

Audrey Hill
September 17, 2018

The National Hurricane Centre said Florence will eventually make a right turn to the north east over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

Rescue crews in Onslow County helped evacuate 70 people from a Jacksonville hotel early Friday after the roof collapsed and rain rushed in.

"Florence is an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told NPR's Morning Edition. "It's called Mother Nature, you never know, but we know". "I made sure ahead of time that we had adequate space for anybody that wanted to try that".

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakening to 70 miles per hour as it pushed inland.

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.

"Some of the rainfall totals we're getting are already adding up to about 14 inches", NHC Director Ken Graham said shortly after 11 a.m. ET.

As Florence raged, a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain to already saturated areas along the Texas coast, resulting in street flooding and prompting some schools to cancel or cut short classes.

Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean. "We were able to evacuate quite a few; some did not go", he said. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.

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.

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And about 46 miles farther up the waterfront, in New Bern, two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way.

"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.

Florence is projected to migrate at barely more than a walking pace across northern SC, passing close to the city of Florence - truly - on Saturday.

Florence's eyewall reached shore near Wilmington, N.C., just before 6 a.m. ET Friday; more than an hour later, the National Hurricane Center announced, it had "finally" made landfall near Wrightsville Beach.

Craven County public information officer Amber Parker says the storm surge has caused flooding in some downtown New Bern businesses, and Union Park is underwater. In order to combat any outages, Duke Energy has gotten more than 10,000 of their own employees on standby and requested and received assistance for more than 2,000 workers from other states not being hit by the hurricane. But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said. This is a perilous moment for the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the roads to escape the storm's fury.

Still, she said, "I think we're going to stay put", noting her neighborhood's past success in avoiding power outages and flooding.

By 5 a.m., about 200 people had been rescued from flooded homes in New Bern, where the National Weather Service reported 10 feet of inundation.

Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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