Florence reels on the shore in south Carolina, tears buildings apart

Strong winds and storm surge of Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N. C.,Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

WILMINGTON, N. C. – Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 mph winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to half a million homes and businesses as it settled in for a long and extremely destructive watering.

More than 60 people had to be pulled out from a crumbling motel on the height of the storm, and many more who defied the evacuation orders were in the hope to be saved. Pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

More ominously, forecasters said that the attack would take hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 6 km / h (9 km) and still draw energy from the ocean.

There were no immediate reports of deaths.

Florence made arrive as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 p.m. in Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the South Carolina line, the country has come along a mostly boarded-up, empty-out of the piece of the coast.

The storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3 meters of rain were considered an even greater threat than the wind, which decreased to a terrifying 140 mph — Category 4 — earlier in the week. Forecasters said the catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected and the inland waterway transport in the next few days as Florence goes to the Carolina’s.

The streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and at least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to the, which traces the nation’s power grid.

To 8 hours is the centre of Florence and was 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of Wilmington. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-wind power reached 195 miles (315 km).

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against the windows of a hotel for the day and dew in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

“Very eerie, the wind howling, and the rain is blowing sideways, debris flying,” said Orsa, who lives in the neighborhood and feared fragmentation trees would pummel her house.

Forecasters said Florence’s surge can cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of the ocean water.

The rising sea crept in the direction of the two-story house of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by the water in Swansboro.

The water is as high as ever, and the waves break on my point, that is normal grass,” said Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press. “Trees blowing down in the wind. Nothing took out the house yet, but it is still blowing.”

In Jacksonville, in addition to Camp Lejeune, the Triangle Motor Inn began to come apart. Fire and police fought wind and rain, as they went door-to-door to pull people after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse. They formed an assembly of an emergency operations center, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.

A gust of 105 mph (169 km / h) was recorded at the Wilmington airport, exceeds the force of the Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

Further from the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people waited to be rescued from the flood on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported. The city said two Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were at work on the swift-water rescues, and more were on the way.

The worst of the storm’s rage had not yet reached the coast of South Carolina, where the managers said that it is not too late for people to get out.

“There is still time, but not a lot of time,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 people in Virginia, where the prospects were less dire.

North Carolina corrections officials said that more than 3,000 people were moved from prisons and juvenile detention centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county inmates were transferred to the state of facilities.

Officials said that around 1.7 million people in the Carolina and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many.

Forecasters said that given the storm’s size and slow track, this may lead to the epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during the Hurricane Harvey a little more than a year ago, with water swamping homes and businesses and washing industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds.

Florence was seen as a key test for the FEMA, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared last year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, that was the fault of almost 3,000 deaths.

Not everyone was to take Florence seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew in Wilmington. Others were at home hoping for the best.

“This is our only home. We have two boats and all our earthly possessions,” said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family’s resources to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. “We have a safety deposit box, the basement, and the generator that goes on automatically. We chose to take shelter.”


Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Jeffrey Collins in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah Rankin, and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Skip Foreman in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jeff Martin in Hampton, Georgia; David Koenig in Dallas; Gerry Broome on Nags Head, North Carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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