Hurricane Florence lashes U.S. east coast, triggers flood warnings

Florence path

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.

The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday as forecasters warned the monster storm would trigger life-threatening flooding as it assaults the U.S. east coast.

Hurricane Florence will slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.

The center said the threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h.

The Saffir-Simpson scale that meteorologists use to measure hurricanes reflects only the wind speeds involved in the storm, and right now Hurricane Florence's winds are hovering at maximum speeds of about 110 miles per hour (175 km/h).

Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm makes its way slowly inland.

Florence is moving toward land at 9 kilometers per hour (6 mph), giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland.

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain.

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The SCDOT map shows congestion starting one mile north of the Georgia border and continuing to the Mile 34 marker in SC . Florence is now churning through the Atlantic, only a few hundred miles off the coast of Wilmington, N.C.

Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.

Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. By Friday morning Florence had already sapped power to almost 450,000 customers in the Carolinas, emergency officials said.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

General O'Shaughnessy said there were about 7,000 USA military personnel now in place and ready to respond to the storm, along with ships, helicopters, high-wheeled vehicles and other equipment.

According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the US mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians".

Roughly 1 million people are under evacuation orders. The center of the hurricane will remain close to the coast Friday, "with much of the circulation still over water".

"The idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more. once you leave, you don't know how many days it will be before you can return", a Wilmington resident named Kate tells VOA. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her familys pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who chose to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.

"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said.

"We'll handle it. We're ready. We're able", he said.

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