Hurricane Florence rolls ashore in Carolinas, tears buildings apart

Griffin said she was jolted awake when the power went off at the hotel as some of the storm's strongest bands lashed Wilmington with wind and rain.

Hurricane Florence is being blamed for taking several lives in North Carolina, including that of a woman and infant child who were killed when a massive tree crashed through their modest brick home early Friday.

"We're out of power so we spent the first few hours of the day playing board games with candles", he said.

In Wilmington, Mason Tarr said he spent the night at a friend's house but didn't sleep well.

Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. Weeks after forming off the African coast, Florence is forecast to finally make landfall later on Friday.

Wilmington's airport recorded a 92mph wind gust on Friday morning, the fastest measured since Hurricane Donna hit the city in 1960. Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Cline said July was the wettest ever in that part of North Carolina, and the water table rose 21 inches higher than normal.

In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.

"We know we're in for a long haul here", Cooper said of predictions that the storm will linger all weekend - and force a tough recovery for. "It could be out for a number of days".

At 2 a.m. Friday, the city tweeted an ominous message, saying at least 150 people were awaiting rescue.

On Friday afternoon, Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw explained to NPR's All Things Considered that people stayed in their homes, despite evacuation orders, because storms that were predicted to be awful in the past, just didn't happen.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't near an end.

Environmental regulators are monitoring more than three dozen toxic waste sites in the path of Hurricane Florence, as well as scores of low-lying water- and sewage-treatment plants at risk of flooding.

"We're in God's hands", said Rick Foreman, pastor at West Lumberton Baptist Church, as the Lumber River steadily rose Friday and local residents filled sandbags. We were forced to have conversations with these people and say hey, do you by chance live in a two-story home?

"It's moving very, very slowly", the weather service's Baker said of the hurricane. More are expected, as the storm could bring winds up to 45 miles per hour around the area, according to Durham County emergency management officials.

"From now own, we'll have to deal with rain and the possibility of a tornado threat", Baker said. Flash floods can materialize within minutes of intense rain as the water rushes down hillsides.

A man sits on a park bench in a flooded park as the Cape Fear River rises above its usual height in Wilmington.

Those waves were coming from the Neuse River, which is about 25 feet (8 meters) away, and downhill, from his house. "Our greatest concern about this storm remains the same-storm surge and massive flooding", he said.

  • Carolyn Briggs