Thursday, 20 September, 2018

What To Expect As Hurricane Florence Bears Down On Carolina Coast

Atlantic Beach N.C. before Hurricane Florence Atlantic Beach N.C. before Hurricane Florence
Frank Williams | 15 September, 2018, 02:47

Florence was downgraded overnight to a category one hurricane - with 90mph (145kmh) winds - but forecasters have warned that conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore in the early hours of Friday morning.

"Just because the wind speeds came down and the intensity of this storm came down to a Category 2, please do not let your guard down", Brock Long, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, told reporters Thursday in Washington.

As Florence reaches landfall, storm surges are the biggest concern, with 49% of U.S. hurricane deaths attributed to surges.

Those officials, who are trained to work at this capacity, will be monitoring the storm and helping to answer emergency calls and coordinating response efforts before, during and after the storm, he said.

The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", Epperson said.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

"I'm not anxious at all", said Richard Ford, 34, smoking a cigarette outside one of Wilmington's five shelters.

An American Red Cross aid worker walks through the cafeteria at Conway High School which is being used as a Hurricane Florence evacuation shelter at Conway High School on September 13, 2018 in Conway, South Carolina.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

And according to meteorologists, the rainfall in parts of North Carolina could exceed three feet with Florence.

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The storm's forward motion has slowed 11km/h since Wednesday (local time), which was predicted as the storm nears the coast.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".

In South Carolina, officials urged residents to prepare for wind, rain, extended power outages, downed trees and even potential mudslides as the storm hovers over the state and dumps millions of gallons of rainwater, as Hurricane Harvey did in the Houston area a year ago.

Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had just been briefed on the storm and "FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement are supplied and ready".

Associated Press story by Johanthan Drew.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year. Power outages and downed trees are expected with any tropical system, he said.

"We have lots of water, we've got lots of food, lots of canned food, non-perishable food", she said.

Over 1.5 million people have been evacuated from the coast.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm. From east to west, the community is less than a dozen blocks deep, with the Atlantic on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other.

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