Florence turns deadly, unleashing 'catastrophic' floods on Carolinas

Pat Wise
September 17, 2018

"The same places have seen all of this water, and the same places will see more water", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Saturday morning.

The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.

He made reference to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Irene in 2011, Sandy in 2012, Harvey and Maria in 2017 and now Florence.

In Goldsboro, North Carolina, home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, roads that frequently flood were already closed Saturday by rushing water. Florence is forecast to turn northward through the Ohio Valley by Monday. It was moving west at 2 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. Some other parts of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

A woman and her baby were killed when a tree fell on their house and several more storm-related deaths were reported Friday as Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas, dousing the eastern United States with torrential rain. The father is in the hospital being treated for injuries.

"The imminent threat of coastal flooding and high winds have passed for our coastal communities as Hurricane Florence has made landfall in the Carolinas and we believe it is safe for Virginians to begin returning home", Northam said in a statement.

Two men were also killed in Lenoir County, North Carolina.

Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the "Cajun Navy" who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues.

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Those who stayed behind gave harrowing accounts of getting trapped in their homes surrounded by water.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, said the state was facing "an extremely risky situation, and it's getting worse" as the hurricane continued its assault.

She, her husband and three children escaped into the attic, but the winds howled, and the family fled to an upper floor bedroom.

"They've been out there for about six hours now just screaming for help", she said. He said it was a testament to the close calls around the city.

"The size of the tree is not something you could simply cut with a chainsaw and remove and then quickly extricate", he said.

Flood conditions will worsen through the relentless rainfall over the next couple days, officials warned.

It is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.

Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

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