Killer storm Florence turning into 'flood event'

How big is Hurricane Florence?

In New Bern, a riverfront city near North Carolina's coast, the storm tore away porch steps, splintered balconies and sent a yacht plowing into a garage that shattered like kindling.

"More and more inland counties are issuing mandatory evacuations to get people to safety quickly".

"Florence is an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told NPR's Morning Edition.

It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days.

The hurricane has caused more than 615,000 power outages in North Carolina, with almost 80,000 reported in SC, according to website poweroutage.us.

Parts of South College Road near the University of North Carolina Wilmington were reported blocked Friday, as were other major arteries like South 17th Street and parts of Oleander Road.

"We've got roads that are open, I think they're passable, but in places they have roofs off of barns and we've got canopies in Atkinson and Burgaw that are in the road", Collins said, "and it's going to take something big to move them".

In nearby New Bern, where water levels reached at least 10 feet overnight, 150 people requested a rescue.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.

Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 miles per hour winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline. It was crawling west at 5 miles per hour (7 kph). But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.

The NWS predicted Florence could drop up to eight months' worth of rain in two or three days. Other communities got well over a foot.

In South Carolina's Myrtle Beach, Victor Shamah, the owner of The Bowery bar, chose to open because people 'wanted to eat, they didn't have any place to eat.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

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.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 68 trillion litres of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. That is roughly equivalent to the amount of water in Chesapeake Bay. North Carolina's Newport and Morehead City have seen about 19 inches of rain so far.

The hurricane has torn buildings apart and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.

The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 169 km/hr the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958. Nationwide, airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded.

"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change. While damages weren't as bad as anticipated in the early afternoon, the Emergency Operations Center said conditions could worsen.

"What we're seeing. of course we have floods, storm surge, wind", Parker says. Hundreds more had to be rescued elsewhere from rising waters. It is believed he died after he was blown down while going outside to check on his dogs.

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".

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