Killer storm Florence dumping ‘epic amounts of rainfall’ on Carolinas

Credit PA

The mother and her baby were killed in New Hanover County when a tree fell on their house, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told media late Friday.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

Forecasters say catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over parts of North Carolina and SC ahead.

There were 974,000 homes in the Carolinas without power on Saturday morning.

Florence had been a Category-3 hurricane on Thursday but dropped to Category-1 before coming ashore.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

Hurricane Florence made landfall this morning near Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, causing huge storm surges, heavy winds, strong winds, and intense flooding.

The hurricane center predicts as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina. As the storm stalled, forecasters warned "torrential rains will come:" an additional 20 to 25 inches in eastern North Carolina and up to 15 inches inland. The Cajun Navy, a rescue team formed after Katrina, scoured the small town of New Bern for victims when overnight flooding sent residents to their attics and rooftops.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, however, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.

Through the day, the storm's pace slowed even more, from 10 miles per hour Thursday morning to 3 miles per hour by Friday evening. Wilmington, North Carolina saw a wind gust of 105 miles per hour, its highest in 60 years.


The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm on Friday and expected to further downgrade it to a tropical depression by Saturday night.

Florence crashed ashore in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane Friday, and was downgraded to a tropical storm the same afternoon. Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

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.

The hurricane center said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at weather.us, said the storm will dump approximately 10 trillion gallons of water on North Carolina, about a quarter of the annual total.

"If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

"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. Along the Neuse River, emergency responders pulled off some 200 rescues overnight and Friday morning, and about 150 people were still awaiting help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers". When they got to the home, the woman was dead, authorities said. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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