Sunday 23 September 2018

Hurricane Florence lands in the US off the coast of North Carolina

Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Hurricane Florence has hit the US coast leaving streets inundated with ocean water and tens of thousands of homes without power.

The centre of the hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and 90mph winds.

The hurricane is now located almost 105km southwest of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

The National Hurricane Centre warned there would be "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

A man rides his bike around the waterfront docks before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Washington, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A man rides his bike around the waterfront docks before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Washington, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Tree leaves and branches are seen on the street as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
People sit at a bar and drink during a "Hurricane Party" as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S. September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Water from Neuse River starts flooding houses as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
People walk on a local street as water from Neuse River starts flooding houses upon Hurricane Florence coming ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The Bank of America is seen covered in plywood as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A man drives his vehicle around the Union Point Park Complex through floodwaters as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
Docks broken by water from Neuse River are seen floating as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
The Bank of America is seen covered in plywood as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A member of the U.S. Army walks through floodwaters near the Union Point Park Complex as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A firefighter tapes off a street due to a downed power line as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S. September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
Police officers have the road leading to Emerald Isle blocked off to traffic as Hurricane Florence starts to hit Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

More than 60 people had to be evacuated from a motel at risk of collapse in Jacksonville. Parts of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Authorities in the North Carolina city of New Bern said there are around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters.

The US National Hurricane Centre said that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3ft of inundation. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles north of Wilmington.

Screaming winds bent trees and led to near-horizontal rain as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area underwater from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 90mph.

Governor Roy Cooper has warned of an impending disaster.

He said: "The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience."

Mr Cooper requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts are less dire.

Prisoners were affected, too. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it is unclear how many did.

The homes of about 10 million are under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

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.

Although it was once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140mph, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause enormous damage similar to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News