Now a tropical storm, Florence spreads watery mayhem across Carolina

Cristina Cross
September 16, 2018

Authorities on Saturday warned residents displaced by a killer hurricane that its devastation was far from over, as Florence dumped "epic amounts of rainfall" across the southeastern United States, bringing catastrophic flooding and up to 13 deaths.

Florence could become a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

"All roads in the state right now are at risk of floods", he said.

"Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".

NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.

Mother Lesha Murphy-Johnson and her baby, Zac, were killed after being trapped inside their home in Wilmington when a tree fell onto the roof at around 9.30am on Friday.

Authorities in SC reported one death, saying a woman was killed when her vehicle struck a fallen tree.

Molly lived near Newport for a decade in the town of New Bern, where roads are underwater and people are stranded.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighborhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to reach the Knox house. As of Saturday afternoon, the death count in the Philippines was a bit higher, although still far below that of other storms that have hit the disaster-prone island nation.

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But for now, "we're going to try to ride it out as long as we can", he said. "I have no idea".

As of 5 a.m. ET, top sustained winds had dropped to near 80 km/h with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday.

Flash flood are expected to his the south-east coast as the storm moves across land.

Stream gauges across the region showed water levels rising steadily, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels: The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to burst their banks, possibly flooding nearby communities.

The effects of Florence won't be fading anytime soon, either, as current forecasts have upwards of 15-to-20 additional inches of rain possible for areas of North and SC will Florence's remnants will linger for the next 48 to 72 hours. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., on September 14, 2018.

East Carolina relocated its team to Florida, anxious that potential flooding near its Greenville campus would keep it from practicing or leaving for next week's game at South Florida in Tampa. Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard posed by the slow-moving storm is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".

Weather forecasters have said the storm will eventually disintegrate over the southern Appalachians and its remnants will make a sharp rightward swing to the northeast, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of the week.

And there could be 10 inches (25 cm) in south-western Virginia.

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