Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state
- Author: Carolyn Briggs Sep 15, 2018,
Sep 15, 2018, 23:59
The center of the storm is over eastern SC, but rain is continuing to fall throughout the state and is particularly heavy in the southern counties. More than 360 people had been carried to safety since Thursday night.
Rivers and creeks rose towards historic levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.
Utility crews worked to restore electricity even as flood waters inundated whole communities.
More than 800,000 people in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state. "More than likely it's maybe a mindset of 'we've been through this before, '" he said.
The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 0715 EDT near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said. It continues to chug west, slowing down from 5 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area earlier this week. Fort Bragg, a sprawling U.S. Army base, is just west of Fayetteville. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in SC, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach. A local official said it was a "storm-related medical fatality", but did not elaborate. A 61-year-old woman died Friday night when her vehicle struck a tree that fell during the storm, state emergency officials said.
Though forecasters later downgraded Florence to a tropical storm, the monster system is barely moving over the Carolinas and could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter).
The Governor's Office has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, which has been used in previous disasters, to accept donations to support North Carolina's response to Hurricane Florence. Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet, backing up onto rivers already swollen by almost two feet of rain.
Authorities advised residents who have not evacuated to go to the highest point in their homes, call 911 for help, keep their cell batteries charged as best they can and wait for help to arrive.
Two people also died in Harkers Island, North Carolina, on Friday, Carteret County Director of Emergency Services Stephen Rea said Saturday.
By Saturday morning a normally tranquil stream known as Crab Tree Swamp was flowing fast and was just a foot from engulfing a bridge which provides north-south access to Conway.
On Saturday some residents tried to return to home, driving through flooded highways armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine needle trees that covered the road.
"Our friend behind our old house, they have gators swimming in the water. So yeah, not safe", Ochoa said.
The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump, who spoke with state and local officials on Friday, plans a visit to the region next week.
Jacob Fernandez (left) and Josh Fernandez play around on the tree that fell near their home as Hurricane Florence passed through the area on Friday in Bolivia, N.C.