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The Latest Menace for the Carolinas: Rising Flood Waters
Hurricane Florence storm downgraded but still "very dangerous"
15 September 2018, 10:26 | Justin Tyler
Don't play games with it, says Trump as Hurricane Florence heads for US East Coast
North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland have declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm. The storm could threaten more than five million people. "People don't need to come back and make things more crowded and more hard to ensure safety". "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
In the first report of storm-related fatalities, a mother and infant died after a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina, according to local police.
The result could be what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farms and industrial sites.
But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
Florence is slowly weakening as it hugs the coast of southeastern North Carolina, its top winds down to 80 miles per hour. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave". "(It's) a risky situation here", Cooper said.
An ever-growing list of suburban streets were reported closed as well Friday, including Airlie Road near Wrightsville Beach, several roads in Wilmington's Forest Hills and spots along Myrtle Grove Road.
It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.
Some parts of New Bern could be flooded with a possible 9-foot storm surge as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States.
The risky storm, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, is expected to keep lashing parts of North and SC into the weekend.
As of 8 p.m., Florence was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 5 mph (7 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
"The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving very slowly to the west at only 6 miles an hour, then is expected to turn to the southwest, increasing the threat for historic storm surge and catastrophic flooding to coastline areas and inland cities in North Carolina and SC". Authorities say at least 20,000 people have evacuated their homes and are sought refuge in shelters throughout North Carolina. Already hundreds of people have been evacuated from the area, while others are warned to take cover and prepare for the worst.
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year. That's enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times. Gigi Charlebois, owner of the Edenton Coffee House on the northern shore of North Carolina's Albemarle Sound, made a decision to stay with her family overnight in the shop's dining room, sleeping on couches, pull-out cots and a mattress. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind. Shortly afterward, the National Weather Service reported wind gusts to 105 miles per hour at Wilmington International Airport, the highest wind gust measured in Wilmington since Hurricane Helene hit the port city in 1958. Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help.
A NOAA reporting station at Cape Lookout, North Carolina reported a sustained winds of 68mph (109km/h).
"Flash flooding will be extreme and flood waters will come up quickly and seemingly out of nowhere", the governor said.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", Ballance said.
Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.
Roslyn Fleming, 56, said her granddaughter was baptized in the inlet near where she lives in the coastal community of Sea Breeze and on Thursday morning she used her iPad to make a video of the scene.
Florence is slowly weakening as it hugs the coast of southeastern North Carolina.
More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.
More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.
Wind And Rain From Florence’s Leading Edge Lash Carolinas
In some counties, almost 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line. "This is low tide, and it looks like high tide", she said. Before, the National Hurricane Center feared that Florence would make landfall as a Category 4 storm. "Stay on guard.
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