Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Rescues continue as Carolinas face rising floodwaters, days of relentless rain

Rescues continue as Carolinas face rising floodwaters, days of relentless rain

In Craven County, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes. At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westward Saturday across SC.

Florence's center may linger for another whole day along coastal North and SC - punishing homes with crushing winds and floods and endangering those who've stayed behind.

Billy Porch, who lives at the Atlantic Breeze Apartments, said he wasn't going to start worrying until the water reached the stairs to the second level or rear of the complex. Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed motel. A spokesperson for the ABC affiliate said that roads around the building were flooding. The storm knocked out power to almost 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.

"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the storm was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days".

USA media said a fifth death may have occurred when a man tried to connect two extension cords in the rain.

And while Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, meteorologists predict heavy rain - up to 2 feet of rain when all is said and done - will continue into the weekend. Flood stage for the river is 14 feet.

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

It appeared that the north side of the eye was the most risky place to be as Florence moved ashore.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said.

By mid-afternoon the winds had dropped to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and the center was moving west at 6 miles per hour (10 kph), the NHC said, and parts of North and SC would get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).

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There were still north of 900,000 people without power in SC and North Carolina combined early Saturday.

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

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year. "This large-scale feature is expected to keep the hurricane moving northwestward today, followed by a turn toward the west at a much slower speed on Friday as the ridge to the north of Florence weakens due to a weak shortwave trough dropping slowly southward from the Ohio Valley".

This story was compiled from McClatchy papers in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer; and in South Carolina, The State in Columbia, the Beaufort Gazette, The Island Packet in Hilton Head and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach; and supplemented with wire service reports. Additional emergency personnel from 22 states have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, including swift water rescue teams, emergency medical personnel, and others.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted during the height of the storm. "We've got some roof issues, parts of roof are coming off and we've got some fences coming down".

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers".

"That's why we opened an hour later, because we had to clean up all our bedding", Charlebois said while standing in the dining room, which by Friday morning teemed with customers while rain poured outside.

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.

Ashley Warren and boyfriend Chris Smith managed to paddle away from their home in a boat with their two dogs, and the experience left her shaken.

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