More than 98,000 without power in U.S. Southeast as Florence approaches

Cristina Cross
September 16, 2018

An investigation is underway, but officials said it appears there's no reason for others at the shelter to worry.

As the soil becomes saturated, gusty winds will topple trees and lead to widespread power outages.

At 2 a.m. Friday, the city tweeted an ominous message, saying at least 150 people were awaiting rescue.

Hurricane Florence edged closer to the east coast of the Hurricane Florence edged closer to the east coast of the US Thursday, with tropical-force winds and rain already lashing barrier islands just off the North Carolina mainland.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

"While we are monitoring potential impacts of Hurricane Florence on the District, we remain committed to keeping our residents safe, prepared, and informed", Ms Bowser said in a statement.

At 5:00 pm (0230 IST), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 160 kilometers east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at five miles per hour, the NHC said.

"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves, " it said.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

Near the Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, coal ash leaked from a Duke Energy landfill.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia. Hurricane-force winds and inland flooding also is a concern.

"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late on Friday.

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He said he was guilty and responsible. "Of course, any woman, man, person can make a mistake". It is a massive lesson for everyone.

"There is going to be a lot of rain".

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income. Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said. More than 20 inches of rain are likely to fall in some areas near the coastline and between 10 and 15 inches are projected to fall as far inland as Fayetteville, which sits about 100 miles from the coast.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said.

The remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia could see 5 to 10 inches, with some isolated areas seeing 15 inches.

As the Carolinas braced for the storm Thursday, roads and tourist shops were closed, regional flights were canceled and residents who didn't evacuate were working to protect their property against the severe weather ahead.

Hurricane Florence is on a path of destruction that will put millions of people at risk and threaten billions of dollars in property damage, centered on the Carolinas. Gerst pleaded with people living in the area to heed evacuation orders, warning them there is a "nightmare coming for you".

Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of the nation's capital, has declared a state of emergency.

"The storm surge forecast with this storm has not changed", warned Brock Long, the head of FEMA. "Work will begin when conditions safely allow", the company said on its website on Saturday. "Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together".

Helene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday.

It had sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and was moving in a northwest direction. It's forecast to gradually turn toward the northeast on Friday and then accelerate northeastward over the weekend.

Long said the danger was not only along the coast.

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