12 dead as Florence leaves heavy flooding in Carolinas

Katie Ramirez
September 16, 2018

Rescue operations began as daylight broke over the North Carolina coast Friday morning, while Hurricane Florence continued to pound the area with wind and rain.

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.

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people, and Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer that about 200 had been rescued by 5 a.m. Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media.

Rainfall will be one of the most destructive elements of hurricane Florence, with heavy rain triggering unsafe flash floods and potential landslides.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

As of 1 p.m. ET, more than a foot of rain had fallen in many towns in southeastern North Carolina. The Weather Channel estimated that up to 3 million customers might lose power in the Carolinas due to Florence.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center.

Governor Cooper said the hurricane was likely to "continue its violent grind across the state for days". According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, a pick-up truck drove into standing water on the road and lost control, overturning into a ditch.

Record water levels occurred at Wrightsville Beach, said NOAA's Ocean Service, which reported the ocean "reached reached 4.11 ft above high tide, breaking a record set by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 by more than a foot".

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Angela told The Observer she was cutting the fruit for her daughter Koby-Rose on Tuesday morning when her knife hit metal. The two brands affected by the original incident, Berry Obsession and Berrylicious, came from the same farm.

Storm surges of up to six feet were forecast for Belhaven, North Carolina, where this video was recorded on the night of September 13.

Saturday night, state and county officials confirmed more deaths, including three people in Duplin County, who died in floodwaters.

Officials have warned against entering attics, unless people have a means to cut through to the roof to avoid drowning.

South Carolina Department of Transportation head Christy Hall said trees are already down in areas of Horry County and citizens should prepare for flooding.

Sustained wind speeds were clocked at 50 miles per hour with higher gusts. It's forecast to turn northeastward and accelerate in that direction over the weekend. Only one North Carolina is expected to more than 1 meter of rain.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers were sent to a home along the 100 block of El Nora Lane in Otway, North Carolina, on Friday in reference to two deaths there.

Duke Energy reported about 6,200 customers were without power in the Charlotte area by 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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