Washington : Tens of thousands of homes were without power and sea water was sloshing through the streets as Hurricane Florence began lashing the US East Coast on Friday, bringing powerful winds along with warnings of “life-threatening” storm surge and rainfall.
The hurricane lost power, downgraded to a Category 1 storm, as it approached North and South Carolina, but officials warned it could still kill “a lot of people” amid the risk of “catastrophic” flooding, the US media reported. Evacuation warnings were in place for more than a million people.
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7.15 am, the National Hurricane Center said. “Hurricane Florence made landfall minutes ago,” NHC Director Ken Graham said in a Facebook Live video.
Graham warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. “The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland,” he said.
Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes. Video footage showed parking lots in the riverfront town of New Bern turn into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell.
Reports of collapsed roofs and other structures were already reported from North Carolina’s Morehead City and New Bern areas, the Washington Post reported.
New Bern was particularly hard hit with reports of more than a hundred people stranded in their homes and in need of rescue.
A gauge in the city’s Neuse River near the town of Oriental indicated the water was 4 feet over flood stage and more than 5 feet above normal levels. More than 1,300 flights along the US East Coast were cancelled through Friday.
According to meteorologist Ryan Maue, the tropical cyclone was expected to unload 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, enough to fill over 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools, CNN reported. Conditions deteriorated on Thursday.
Some areas of North Carolina saw almost a foot of rain in just a few hours.