Race to rescue people stranded in U.S. hurricane

15 September, 2018, 22:16 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Hurricane Florence's onslaught threatens disaster in North Carolina

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and more than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid. The storm is expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolinas and the Ohio Valley by Monday, the NHC said early on Saturday.

Tropical Storm Florence is still posing life-threatening surges in portions of North and SC. Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometres from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometres.

But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph). A tweet from the NWS said the storm would be "a marathon vs. a sprint" as it hovered over the area dumping heavy rainfall.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3ft of rain, touching off severe flooding.

The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958, the weather service said.

And about 46 miles north of Emerald Isle in New Bern, where about 150 people were waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters, WXII-TV reported.

It has trapped people in flooded homes as citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state join local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.

The Red Cross said more than 1,600 people spent Thursday night in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in the Carolinas.

Conditions are rapidly deteriorating along the coast of the Carolinas as Florence approaches.

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"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, Florence was centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving west at 2 mph (4 kph), not even as fast as a person can walk. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump stands by tweets questioning Puerto Rico death toll: "NO WAY" Trump pushes back on ex-lawyer putting out book, cites "attorney-client privilege" Wealthiest Republican supporter in OH quits party MORE, who has been in constant communication with state leaders, declared a state of emergency in North and SC and Virginia ahead of the hurricane. Forecasters warned of "catastrophic" freshwater flooding along the Carolinas.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than one million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

Already, flooding and waters have struck the North Carolina coastal regions.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of flooding, the NHC said.

But forecasters said its extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously. Others could only wait and hope someone would come for them.

"This is our only home".

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