Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Science | By

Hurricane Florence smashes into US East Coast, rescuers scramble

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been put under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders to avoid what emergency officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm. The city's official Twitter account urged residents to move to the upper floors of their homes.

As Florence drew near, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

"But with conditions with the way they are, there are some area where it's just not safe to perform rescues", Parker says.

High winds and downed power lines are another concern for that region. And this is just the beginning. "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge". We probably will be getting heavy winds and rain for the next few days. "To put this in context, we correctly predicted the full extent of Hurricane Harvey's economic damage to be $190 billion a year ago".

Florence is moving toward land at 9 kilometers per hour (6 mph), giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3 feet of rain were considered an even bigger threat than its winds, which dropped way down from a terrifying 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

But the National Hurricane Center is still warning of life-threatening storm surges, with as much as 11ft of ocean water expected to cover the Carolina coast.

Authorities main concern with Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, rather than high winds.

"Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week". "I've lived here all my life".

"Inland flooding kills a lot of people unfortunately and that's what we're about to see".

The impact of the storm is already being felt by those caught in its path. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight". "This water is through the first floor of your home, into the second", Navarro says.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted Florence would drop up to eight months' worth of rain in two or three days.

North of the landfall, another 150 people near the town of New Bern required rescue from floods along the Neuse River.

"This is an extremely unsafe and life-threatening situation".

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