More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

USA power companies said over 895,000 homes and businesses located mostly in North Carolina and SC were without power on Friday after Florence hit the Southeast coast.

As Hurricane Florence begins to hammer the Carolinas, a few fliers managed to escape the storms path, arriving at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Thursday just before the hurricane is predicted to made landfall.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) says storm surges could bring catastrophic flooding to inland areas.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 160 kph, but that could still cause at least $1 billion in damage.

SC officials say more than 400,000 people have evacuated the state's coast and more than 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters as Hurricane Florence approaches.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come", he said. "Certainly if you do have to go out, don't drive through any water. But we're going to be okay", he said. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

The US National Hurricane Center described how winds of up to 90 miles (150 kilometers) per hour were pummeling the state of North Carolina. "I want it to really start and get it over with so we know if people are going to be safe".

Allison James who lives in Huntersville, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina said that based on reports this area would not be directly affected. We are more inland from the coast.

Associated Press story by Johanthan Drew.

The high winds will likely snap or uproot numerous trees.


Florence is widely seen as a test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose capabilities were stretched thin a year ago as it responded to three major hurricanes.

At 11:00 pm, Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at six miles per hour, the NHC said.

Mr Cooper's office said the current emergency declaration was helping state officials prepare for the storm.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'm probably a seven in terms of worry, she said".

One electricity company fears that three-quarters of its four million customers will lose power as a result of the storm, and may not be reconnected for weeks.

It was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 kph) before its core slogged into coastal SC hours later.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet high as Florence churned toward shore.

Utility crews had largely stopped stringing power lines during the peak of the storm and said they would not resume restoring power until wind speeds subsided and flood waters receded, which could take several areas in the hardest-hit areas.

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