Over 895,000 without power as Florence batters Carolinas

Clay Curtis
September 15, 2018

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Tropical Storm Florence trudged inland on Saturday, flooding rivers and towns, toppling trees and cutting power to almost a million homes and businesses as it dumped huge amounts of rain on North and SC, causing five deaths. The child´s injured father was taken to a hospital.

USA power companies said more than 974,000 homes and businesses, mostly in North Carolina and SC, were without power on Saturday after Florence hit the Southeast coast.

"A big worry about Hurricane Florence is that it's not acting like a normal hurricane", said Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher, reporting from Wilmington, North Carolina.

"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said.

The storm's center is crawling inland over SC, but its main rain bands largely are over already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.

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

Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm later, its winds weakened to 60 mph (95 kph) as it moved forward at 5 mph (7 kph) about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In Kinston, more than an hour's drive inland from the coast, Lenoir County spokesman Bryan Hanks said a man was electrocuted as he attempted to connect extension cords outside in the rain. He made reference to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Irene in 2011, Sandy in 2012, Harvey and Maria in 2017 and now Florence.

An abandoned car's hazard lights continue to flash as it sits submerged in rising flood waters on Saturday morning after Florence struck Wilmington, N.C.

Roads became flooded, trees blown over and homes destroyed as some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges of flood water as high as 10ft. It blew ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

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At the Comfort Suites in Wilmington, hotel staff hiding out with news crews and storm refugees were left in the dark when the power went out.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore.

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

Evacuation orders remain in place for Horry and Georgetown counties along South Carolina's northern coast.

"I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about", Trump said on Monday. Storm totals could reach between 30 and 40 inches in some areas.

It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.

Five million people are at risk with warnings of possible landslides and flooding.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter.

"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is incredible and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighborhood on Saturday. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

Florence will continue to move very slowly to the southwest on Saturday, which in turn will drag the axis of heavy rain bands to the southwest as well.

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