Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Matthew Castillo

Mother and Infant Among First Reported Fatalities as Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall

Mother and Infant Among First Reported Fatalities as Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall

After days of watching and waiting for Hurricane Florence's arrival, the hurricane finally made landfall - as a Category 1 - in North Carolina early Friday.

More than 440,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., at 7:15 a.m. ET, creeping slowly ashore - but bringing strong winds, a massive storm surge and a rain system that will soak much of the state and SC for days.

As Florence raged, a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain to already saturated areas along the Texas coast, resulting in street flooding and prompting some schools to cancel or cut short classes.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere near an end.

The White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. "But I think we're ready". The hurricane had the brothers slightly anxious of storm surge, but they didn't believe there would be horrific damage. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

Hurricane Florence, weakened but still risky, has crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a days-long deluge.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state. The storm was a unsafe Category 4 hurricane Wednesday but was downgraded Thursday night to a Category 1 storm.

While many sought shelter - about 26,000 people took refuge in 100 shelters and at the 14,000-seat Joel Colisseum in Winston-Salem - others ignored warnings or headed to nearby hotels.

In its latest update, the NHC predicted 20 to 25 inches of rain across much of the impacted region, with localized totals exceeding 30 or 40 inches. More are expected, as the storm could bring winds up to 45 miles per hour around the area, according to Durham County emergency management officials.

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way. The center of the storm is expected to maintain a westward track across southeastern North Carolina Friday and across eastern South Carolina Friday and Saturday.

As the storm moves into hilly terrain, it's also expected to unleash catastrophic and potentially deadly flash flooding and possibly mud slides, the hurricane center warned.

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

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.

"(Its) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.

Roy Cooper, governor for North Carolina, said: "The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's going to get worse".

The biggest danger, as forecasters saw it, was not the wind but the water: the storm surge along the coastline and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain over the next several days that could trigger catastrophic flooding in a slow-motion disaster well inland.

Another Wilmington resident said she did not want to leave because she was afraid to see what she would come back to after the storm.

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