The storm hit Wilmington, North Carolina, Friday morning with a 105 mph wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958.
“The sun rose this morning on an extremely dangerous situation and it’s getting worse,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, calling Florence a “thousand-year rain event.”
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous echoed that sentiment.
“I see a biblical proportion flood event that’s going to occur,” he told ABC News. “I see the beach communities being inundated with water and destruction that will be pretty, pretty epic in nature.”
Here’s the latest:
More than 557,000 customers in North Carolina were without power early Friday as residents faced the effects of the Category 1 storm.
Catastrophic flooding is expected for much of the coastal Carolinas. Rainfall has already reached as many as 2 inches per hour in parts of eastern North Carolina.
More than 30 inches of rain have fallen in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, according to the U.S Geological Survey. If confirmed by the National Weather Service, that would break the state record for rainfall from a tropical cyclone.
In Bayboro, North Carolina, one of the areas under evacuation, resident Kim Dunn stayed behind, and now she’s trapped in her truck surrounded by rising water. Her boyfriend and his cousin are stranded on a paddle boat less than a mile away.
The water is as high as street signs, and “we have no way to get to them,” Dunn told ABC News Friday morning.
“They’ve been out there for about six hours now just screaming for help,” she said. “Only communication we have with them is just me flashing my lights to them and I think they have a flashlight they’re flickering back to us.”
Dunn, the mother of a 10-month-old, a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old, said she made a decision to stay behind while others fled.
“We were trying to figure out if we had enough finances to get out and if we were to get out, were we going to be able to get back home. So we made a decision to stay,” she said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to be before the water actually starts to come into the apartment.”
In nearby New Bern, where water levels reached 10 feet overnight, 150 people have requested a rescue. Volunteers are using private boats to pitch in and help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.
The downtown area, at the confluence of two rivers, is mostly underwater.
New Bern resident George Zaytoun chose not to evacuate and is trapped inside his home.
“It’s like a bomb has gone off,” Zaytoun told “Good Morning America” Friday. “Everything around us is underwater.”
Zaytoun said he regrets not evacuating.
When Florence was downgraded from a Category 4 to a 2, “I think we kind of let our guards down,” he said of his community.
Florence “is twice the size of Hurricane Hugo,” which tore through the Carolinas in 1989, New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told “GMA.”
Gov. Cooper said Friday, “As soon as it is safe, first responders will make sure they go and rescue people who need to be saved from this storm.”
Some people were arrested for breaking into cars as Hurricane Florence approached North Carolina Thursday night, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram told ABC Wilmington affiliate WWAY-TV.
“If you seek to prey upon the citizens of Brunswick County, we’re going to do everything we can to lock you up,” Ingram warned. “I made sure ahead of time that we had adequate space for anybody that wanted to try that.”
The rainfall is forecast to reach up to 40 inches in some areas over the next several days.
Storm surge could be as high as 11 feet in parts of North Carolina, prompting officials to closely watch the rise of rivers in the eastern part of the state. River flooding may be worse than Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
“We are expecting several more days of rain and our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger and then we will shift to putting our communities back together,” Cooper said Friday. “I know North Carolinians. We’re going to make it through this because we’re going to stick together and we’re going to work together.”
ABC News’ Max Golembo, Sam Wnek, Alex Faul, Dom Proto, Kelly McCarthy, Morgan Winsor, Nick Coulson and Kieran Mcgirl contributed to this report.
Published at Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:21:29 +0000