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.
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"We know we're in for a long haul here", Cooper said of predictions that the storm will linger over the area. "People think we're taking animals that have been stranded from the storm".
Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.
"This storm has been hovering over us for a while, and we expect it to continue to hover over us", she said. More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. Hurricanes feed off the heat in the warm surface of the ocean and typically lose power when they hit land.
The hurricane center said the large amount of rainfall "will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding". Also, a 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, and a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain, authorities said.
A man runs past a mandatory evacuation sign before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Wednesday.
The city had over 1,200 911 calls in a 12-hour span, said Roberts.
Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.
By 9:30 a.m., more than 500,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, and the Triangle had begun to experience outages.
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the centre, and tropical storm effects reach 195 miles, The Independent reported.now less than 100 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, the "meandering" Florence has been described as a "horrific nightmare storm" because meteorologists can not pinpoint where it will strike. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.
Sarah Risty-Davis, who was born and raised in New Bern, told NPR's Morning Edition that she saw high floodwaters until the early morning but that the water has mostly receded in her neighborhood. He made a plan B: if the water reached the house, he'd take the pets upstairs to the second floor.
The waves will meet resistance as Florence approaches landfall, but storm surges up to 13 feet are expected in some areas of North Carolina, according to the weather service. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".
When Hurricane Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for unsafe flooding and dramatic rescues.
Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm Thursday.
More than 10 million people live in areas under warnings or watches for hurricane- or tropical storm- force winds, CNN reports. Wilmington is expected to get battered before the storm drifts south.
The city of 29,000 that's near the North Carolina coast is surrounded by two rivers on the east and south. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized.
The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.
The storm was about 130 miles south-southeast of Raleigh as of 11:20 a.m. Friday, the NWS said.
The water starts at her feet, rising behind her to three feet and "coming up my shins towards my waist", then to six feet and finally to nine feet, dwarfing her as she warns of the storm surge.
Before sunrise, high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on September 14, 2018.
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