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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Live Updates: Florence Responsible For At Least 6 Deaths In North And South Carolina

The National Weather Service warned Florence will likely be “the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast” with “the potential for unbelievable damage.”

What we know so far

  • Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast at 7:15 a.m. ET with 90 mph winds. It weakened to a tropical storm Friday afternoon.
  • At least 6 people were killed and 800,000 customers were without power as Florence roared ashore.
  • Millions of people were evacuated in North and South Carolina ahead of the storm, with most coastal areas under mandatory evacuation orders.
  • The National Weather Service warned Florence will likely be “the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast” with “the potential for unbelievable damage.”
  • Florence is expected to bring catastrophic flooding as it slows to a crawl over land, bringing potentially unprecedented rainfall to the region. Forecasters said the storm could produce more than 40 inches of rain in parts of the Carolinas.
  • Areas along the coast could see dangerous storm surge upward of 13 feet.
  • Follow BuzzFeed News reporters Zahra Hirji in Raleigh and Ellie Hall in Norfolk, Virginia.

Latest Florence forecast track


The storm death toll rises to 6 after a woman was killed in South CarolinaA woman was killed after her vehicle hit a tree downed by Florence on Friday evening, the first storm-related death in South Carolina and the sixth overall.The 61-year-old female from Union, South Carolina, was driving on Highway 18 around 9:40 p.m. on Friday when the roof of her car struck a tree that had partially-fallen across the road, Captain Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, told BuzzFeed News."She died at the scene. She was the only occupant in the vehicle and she was wearing a seatbelt," explained Hughes.รข€”Amber Jamieson

A woman was killed after her vehicle hit a tree downed by Florence on Friday evening, the first storm-related death in South Carolina and the sixth overall.
The 61-year-old female from Union, South Carolina, was driving on Highway 18 around 9:40 p.m. on Friday when the roof of her car struck a tree that had partially-fallen across the road, Captain Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, told BuzzFeed News.
"She died at the scene. She was the only occupant in the vehicle and she was wearing a seatbelt," explained Hughes.

A man and his kitten, named “Survivor,” are rescued from the floods

Robert Simmons Jr., who has lived in New Bern all 40 years of his life, was rescued from the floods on Friday along with his kitten, who he said is named “Survivor.”
The powerful photo of Simmons and Survivor, both looking wet and exhausted, has gone viral.
“We done been through Bertha, Fran, Irene, Matthew,” Simmons told The News & Observer from a boat. “And this is the worst it’s ever been, in this part right here.”
Simmons had to leave his father behind in their home because “he wanted to wait it out,” he said.
“I didn’t want him to wait it out,” he said. “Yeah. Didn’t want him to wait it out. Man, it’s bad.”

President Trump has issued a disaster declaration in response to Tropical Storm Florence


The president has ordered federal aid to be given to people affected by Florence in North Carolina, the White House announced Saturday.
Funding will supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts, and will be available for residents in eight counties across the state.
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.

It added that further assistance may be given after officials have carried out damage assessments in other areas.

More “catastrophic flooding” is predicted as Florence makes its way inland

Tropical Storm Florence weakened to maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as heavy rain continued to lash the central Carolinas Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported.
In a 5 a.m. advisory notice, it warned that “life-threatening” storm surges will continue along parts of the North Carolina coast and along the Neuse and Pamlico rivers.
It also warned of landslides in the southern and central Appalachians, as well as “catastrophic” flash floods and river flooding from western North Carolina to far eastern West Virginia next week, as the storm turns north toward the Ohio Valley.
At least five people have been killed in the wake of Florence, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Friday, including a mother and infant killed by a falling tree in North Carolina.
As of 6 a.m. ET Saturday, the storm had caused more than 880,000 power outages across the Carolinas.

A fifth person has been confirmed dead after falling amid strong winds

A fifth death related to Hurricane Florence has been confirmed in Kinston, North Carolina.
Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail said the body of a 77-year-old man was discovered at 8 a.m. Friday by family at his home.
"It is believed his death was caused when he was blown down by the wind when he went out to check on his hunting dogs," Dail said in a statement.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on the North Carolina coast at 7:15 a.m. with 90 mph winds. It weakened to a tropical storm by the afternoon.

North Carolina residents further inland are seeking shelter at this Wake Forest high school


WAKE FOREST, North Carolina — Marge Yost drove up to Knightdale High School with her four kids in tow Thursday in hopes of finding shelter before the storm hit. They found more luck at their next stop — Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina, which had just opened to meet the growing demand.
“I only came because we have three really tall pine trees” next to the house and “they are not in good shape,” said Yost, whose family is from the nearby town of Garner.
Fallen tree limbs knocked out their cable satellite only a month ago. She got a new one within the past week, she said, “just in time for the storm.”
Yost and her children are among just 34 people and two dogs that had checked into Heritage, a site that can house more than 300 people, as of Friday afternoon.
The shelter was opened to help people streaming out of Hyde, New Bern, and other places along the coast, Antonia Pedroza, the facility’s manager, told BuzzFeed News. But so far, all the residents have come in from Wake County, where the state capital Raleigh is located.
“Mostly, it’s people who are too afraid to stay home,” Pedroza told BuzzFeed News. Some lived through Hurricane Fran and didn’t want to go through the same experience again, she added.
The shelter could fill up when the rivers start flooding, or the power is knocked out, shelter worker Ann Chavez said.

Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it slowly moves inland

Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon as it slowly moved across inland North Carolina.
The storm, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, was packing 70 mph winds and was still expected to bring life-threatening storm surges and dangerous flooding to the region, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Right now our focus is on saving lives and protecting people,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said during a press conference. “We are still in the thick of the storm.”
Some parts of southeastern North Carolina have already received upward of 10 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm surge warning was discontinued for south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and north of Salvo, North Carolina, as Florence moved west.
The hurricane warning for South Santee River, South Carolina, to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, has been replaced with a tropical storm warning.
The tropical storm warning has been discontinued north of Cape Hatteras. Storm Surge warnings remained in effect for Myrtle Beach to Salvo and for Pamlico Sound, North Carolina.
The tropical storm warning also remained in effect for Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Hatteras and for Pamlico Sound.

Trump will visit the Carolinas next week

President Trump is scheduled to visit the areas affected by Hurricane Florence sometime next week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.
The president will visit the area "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts," she added.

DHS says there will be no immigration enforcement during hurricane evacuations or at shelters

Shelters and evacuation operations associated to Hurricane Florence will be off-limits when it comes to immigration enforcement, federal officials said in a statement posted online Friday.
"Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. "In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Florence, except in the event of a serious public safety."
The announcement came after the hurricane made landfall Friday morning and was similar to others made by the federal agency during natural disasters in the past two years, including Hurricane Harvey in Aug. 2017, Hurricane Irma in Sept. 2017, and California wildfires in August.
While the statement posted Friday differed in language from previous announcements, a DHS spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News the agency would not be conducting routine non-criminal enforcement during the storm in the affected areas. The pause in immigration enforcement activities would be similar to that of previous events, she said.

Two more deaths have been reported in the wake of Hurricane Florence's landfall in North Carolina



Two more people have been confirmed dead in North Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence, bringing the total to at least four.
A woman in Hampstead, which was under mandatory evacuation, died of an apparent heart attack, according to Tammy Proctor, spokesperson for Pender County.
Proctor told BuzzFeed News emergency personnel tried to clear the roadway of trees and debris to reach her, but during the operation a tree fell through the emergency vehicle.
"Because of the height of the storm and the danger of the winds they had to suspend operations," Proctor said.
Additional information was not immediately available.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office also confirmed a fourth person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator.
Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail said the person, a 78-year-old man, was electrocuted when he tried to connect two extension cords outside in the rain. His body was discovered by family members.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm," Cooper said in a statement. "Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert."

A North Carolina mother and infant become the first fatalities caused by Florence


The first two casualties of Hurricane Florence have been confirmed in Wilmington, police said in a tweet Friday afternoon.
A mother and infant were killed after a tree collapsed on their Mercer Avenue home this morning, trapping them inside. Police said that the father had been rescued from the collapsed building by emergency services personnel and transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center but did not provide any information on his condition.
Per local media reports, the tree fell on the house around 9:30 a.m.

More than 360 people were rescued in New Bern


More than 360 people have been rescued in New Bern since Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina city.RALEIGH, North Carolina — Wilmington residents who evacuated ahead of Hurricane Florence are worried about what they might find when
they return home.
"Our biggest fear is getting back home," Wilmington resident Karen Dries told BuzzFeed News at a hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is waiting out the storm with her husband and mother.
The family fled Wilmington on Wednesday after their son-in-law, who works in emergency management, told them, “You need to get out of here.”
But Dries is worried that road closures will keep them stuck in Raleigh, and she’s concerned about what they’ll find at home once they get there.
Three-fourths of residents in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located, were without power around 9 a.m. local time, according to a report on PowerOutage.us.
Dries and her husband, Paul, moved from the Raleigh area to Wilmington just three months ago, and she says that their house, which is new brick construction, should be fine. She heard from a friend that their street still had electricity, but she worries that power outages in the city may last for weeks.
Power has gone out twice for Spencer Rogers, a scientist with North Carolina Sea Grant, who lives in Wilmington and decided to ride out the storm at home. Rogers told BuzzFeed News that he lost power for the first time early last night, and the electric company was able to restore it for about an hour before the power went out again.
“We heard it blow a second time,” Rogers said in an email. He expects that, at this point, the power could be down for the duration of the storm. There is “too much wind to get out the generator,” he said, “But at least the gas burner is making hot coffee."
“It’s been insane,” Steven Pfaff, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, told BuzzFeed News. “It is just getting too dangerous” to do some outside observations, he said. The instrument detected a wind gust of 105 miles per hour earlier in the morning.
The team has been working shifts to issue flash flood alerts, forecasts, and to communicate with emergency managers on the ground about local conditions. They’re prepared to be there for days, but they’re relying on a backup generator since the power went out.
"We’re like a bunker right now,” said Pfaff. “We still have communications, which is good.”

Crews were able to bring down the number of people awaiting rescue to 40, but as weather conditions began to deteriorate, more calls for rescue came in, city spokesperson Colleen Roberts told BuzzFeed News
She estimated there were about 100 people awaiting rescue as of Friday afternoon

The National Weather Service forecasts “record” flooding from Hurricane Florence



The National Weather Service is warning of “life threatening” floods in North Carolina and South Carolina rivers, starting this weekend and into next week, as rains continue to fall from Hurricane Florence.
With up to 40 inches of rain forecast in some locales, the latest river forecast sees nine river locations at risk for major flooding, in some cases setting flood marks feet above past records.
“We could be dealing with flood that's as bad or worse than the effects of Hurricanes Matthew and Floyd's in some of our basins,” Richard Neuherz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a note accompanying the forecast. Much of the flooding is expected in rivers inland of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, near where the storm made landfall.
Major floods are forecast for the Cape Fear, Lumber, Waccanaw, Black Creek, Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers. Crests of the flooding are projected from Sunday to Tuesday. Dozens of homes and miles of highway near the Cape Fear River are expected to be inundated, with the river cresting at 25.7 feet near Burgaw, North Carolina. That’s more than three feet above the past record.
“Of course, this all depends on how and where the rain really falls versus what we're forecasting,” Neuherz said. “If the axis of heaviest observed rainfall or the amounts are off by a little, it will affect how the rivers respond.”
The next flood forecast is expected in the early afternoon on Saturday.

As Florence hit, zookeepers sheltered these vulnerable flamingos indoors

Flamingos at the Riverbanks Zoo And Garden in Columbia, South Carolina, normally reside in an outdoor sanctuary. But with historic flooding in the forecast for Hurricane Florence, zoo workers moved the birds indoors, ferrying them to the zoo's animal hospital from their normal habitat via golf carts.
A photographer documented the transfer of more than a dozen birds.
First, zookeepers rounded the birds up in their pen.
Then the flamingos rode in golf carts to their temporary home.
Susan O'Caine, Riverbanks' director of communications, said half of the zoo's 300 birds live outdoors year round. Those birds were moved to new enclosures with sandbagged doors and windows to protect them from flooding.
Zookeepers moved the other half of the birds into the indoor sections of their habitats.
A river runs through the 170-acre park, which increases the risk for flooding, but O'Caine said an animal has never died during previous hurricanes or flooding at Riverbanks.
Some staff members are staying with the animals to keep them safe during the hurricane.
The zoo also posted a video of the flamingos being moved.Gov. Roy Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" in the state with nearly 600,000 residents without electricity on Friday. About 200,000 people were also being housed in over 100 shelters, he added.
The governor warned that "relentless rains" would continue through the weekend and urged residents not to go out in the storm.
He also said roads across North Carolina were underwater and that rivers — which are set to have record-level flooding — will continue to rise for days after the rain stops.
North Carolina Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said they expect to see 500 to 1,000 year flooding events from Wilmington to Charlotte.
BuzzFeed News spoke to some residents who left their homes to seek shelter at a hotel in Raleigh.
Lonnie and Jeremy McLean, along with their young daughter, told BuzzFeed News they decided to wait out the storm at the Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh Downtown rather than at their home as a precaution.
They were also joined by other family members from the area.
“Better to be safe than sorry,” Jeremy McLean said.

Wilmington residents are afraid for their homes as Hurricane Florence batters the town



RALEIGH, North Carolina — Wilmington residents who evacuated ahead of Hurricane Florence are worried about what they might find when they return home.
"Our biggest fear is getting back home," Wilmington resident Karen Dries told BuzzFeed News at a hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is waiting out the storm with her husband and mother.
The family fled Wilmington on Wednesday after their son-in-law, who works in emergency management, told them, “You need to get out of here.”
But Dries is worried that road closures will keep them stuck in Raleigh, and she’s concerned about what they’ll find at home once they get there.
Three-fourths of residents in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located, were without power around 9 a.m. local time, according to a report on PowerOutage.us.
Dries and her husband, Paul, moved from the Raleigh area to Wilmington just three months ago, and she says that their house, which is new brick construction, should be fine. She heard from a friend that their street still had electricity, but she worries that power outages in the city may last for weeks.
Power has gone out twice for Spencer Rogers, a scientist with North Carolina Sea Grant, who lives in Wilmington and decided to ride out the storm at home. Rogers told BuzzFeed News that he lost power for the first time early last night, and the electric company was able to restore it for about an hour before the power went out again.
“We heard it blow a second time,” Rogers said in an email. He expects that, at this point, the power could be down for the duration of the storm. There is “too much wind to get out the generator,” he said, “But at least the gas burner is making hot coffee."
“It’s been insane,” Steven Pfaff, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, told BuzzFeed News. “It is just getting too dangerous” to do some outside observations, he said. The instrument detected a wind gust of 105 miles per hour earlier in the morning.
The team has been working shifts to issue flash flood alerts, forecasts, and to communicate with emergency managers on the ground about local conditions. They’re prepared to be there for days, but they’re relying on a backup generator since the power went out.
"We’re like a bunker right now,” said Pfaff. “We still have communications, which is good.”

Flooding leaves more than 100 New Bern residents strandedAround 100 to 150 residents of New Bern, North Carolina, are waiting to be rescued after the city was flooded following Hurricane Florence's storm surge, officials said.

Authorities have already rescued 200 people since the flooding began, assuring the remaining stranded residents that help was on the way. The city sent a tweet saying there were two out-of-state FEMA teams in the city for "swift water rescue" and that more were on their way.
"You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the city said.
mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents of New Bern on Tuesday and the city's mayor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.The small city was battered by the storm surge with officials predicting approximately 9–13 feet storm surge from the hurricane. "This could be life-threatening, especially in low lying areas," according to information released by the city.

Hurricane Florence has made landfall on the North Carolina coast


The eye of Hurricane Florence has made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said Friday morning.
The center of the storm hit about six miles east of Wilmington at 7:15 a.m., with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told CNN's New Day that the entire city was out of power.
"Trees are down. We're getting these wind gusts now that are coming in at 90 mph, a lot of calls for emergencies, but we're not able to get these first responders out," he said, explaining that they will assess the situation as quickly as they can when it is safe to do so.
"We're getting the flooding, we're getting exactly what meteorologists said we were going to get," he added.
"It's a big storm. It's moving very slow, so this is going to be upon us for approximately 16 hours. I have lived here all my life and I've never seen a hurricane that is literally going to be with us for two days."
As of 8:10 a.m., there were more than 422,000 without power in North Carolina and another 15,000 in South Carolina.

Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall on the North Carolina coast

The eyewall of Hurricane Florence was approaching the North Carolina coast Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service said.
Reporters posted footage of torrential rainfall on Twitter as the hurricane made its way toward Wilmington.In a 6 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center reported that its center was about 10 miles east of Wilmington, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.
A NOAA observing site at Cape Lookout, about 120 miles up the coast from Wilmington, recorded a sustained wind of 59 mph and a gust of 79 mph.The hurricane has caused more than 320,000 power outages across North Carolina, according to the state's Department of Public Safety.

Hurricane conditions have reached the North Carolina coast

Hurricane-force winds were reported on the North Carolina coast Thursday night as the center of Florence closed in.
A NOAA observing site at Cape Lookout recorded sustained winds of 83 mph and a gust of up to 106 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Data from aircraft showed winds near the eye were at 100 mph.
"Little change in strength is expected before the eye of Florence reaches the coast, with slow weakening expected after the center moves inland or meanders near the coast," the center said.
The National Guard and various active military were preparing for the storm at a joint command center outside Raleigh. So far, there are thousands of National Guard members and active military across the storm region ready to deploy.
“We’ve learned from previous disasters that we have to be talking together,” Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo, a press officer for the North Carolina National Guard, told BuzzFeed News.
—Zahra Hirji and Stephanie K. Baer
Posted at 

More than 100,000 people are without power in the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence approaches


More than 100,000 customers were experiencing power outages in North Carolina and South Carolina Thursday night as Hurricane Florence made its way to land.
Duke Energy, which estimated that between 1 million to 3 million customers could be without electricity as a result of the storm, reported that nearly 49,000 customers in the two states were affected by outages.
North Carolina's Electric Cooperatives said upward of 51,900 customers were without power. Dominion Energy reported 496 customers in North Carolina were experiencing outages.



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