Hurricane Florence rips through Carolina coast


Florence was still spinning slowly atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Floyd produced 24 inches of rain in some parts of the state, while Florence has already dumped about 30 inches in areas around Swansboro.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article reported two deaths in Carteret County, North Carolina.

City spokesperson Colleen Roberts said rescuers faced very challenging conditions. This is a perilous moment for the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the roads to escape the storm's fury.

The parts of the country still in the storm's path have been saturated by summer rains and can not soak up any surplus from Florence.

There is really nowhere for the water to go.

"We're working as hard as we can", Hodges says.

The Weather Service said some bodies of water were rising to record levels in South Charlotte and that the extent of the flood impacts "may be unprecedented in some locations".

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

Usually hurricanes this far north deliver their punch and quickly leave town. On Friday afternoon it was traveling at just 3 to 5 miles per hour, still near the coast.

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In Morehead City, Jim Howell, 65, said he and his wife, Betsy, have lived through about 10 hurricanes, evacuating only once. "It's like a bubble with no wind, it just floats". "Just so that you know, we are staying here to keep you up to date".

"We'll see how long this lasts".

The coast has been battered, and the mountains appear to be next.

In one piece of good news, authorities said 16 wild ponies on hurricane-struck Ocracoke Island, located off the North Carolina coast, were safe. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds up to 195 miles.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing. Florence could add another six to 10 inches of rainfall this weekend. "Up to 15 inches additional rain will exacerbate ongoing flooding".

"You evacuate from water", Cline said.

The heaviest rains should shift to between northern SC and west-central North Carolina during the day. Flash flooding is a threat in those states as well. Swelling rivers and creeks threatened dams and bridges.

Yet a day after landfall the faster-moving Mangkhut was back out over open water - weakened, but headed across the South China Sea toward China.

Hence the refrain Friday from emergency management officials: Turn around, don't drown.

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When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for unsafe flooding.

North Carolina emergency management officials said more than 600,000 customers in North Carolina were without power.

Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington late Saturday.

A state of emergency was declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

Eight-foot waves, a local record, ruffled the surface of the Cape Fear River. Wind gusts topped 100 miles per hour in Wilmington reaching 105 miles per hour.

On Saturday some residents tried to return home, driving through flooded highways and armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine trees that covered the road. Traffic lights were out. He was blown down at 8 his home on Middle Street.

The Wilmington Police Department said Friday that the two were killed when a tree fell on their house.

In Kinston, a city southeast of Raleigh, two people died in the storm. Family members found the man's body, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services. Gov. Rick Scott said he disagreed with the president and that he saw the "devastation firsthand", while Ron DeSantis, who won the GOP primary for Florida governor with Trump's endorsement, also said the president was not correct.

Firefighters work to combat the fallout from Hurricane Florence.

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This article was written by Scott Wilson, Patricia Sullivan, Mark Berman and Joel Achenbach, reporters for The Washington Post. "Be extremely careful and stay alert".