As Hurricane Florence unleashes a deluge upon North Carolina, the city of New Bern has found itself inundated with floodwater, forcing hundreds of residents to call for help. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.
Hurricane Florence brought a storm surge of some 3 meters (10 feet) as it began battering the U.S. east coast early on Friday.
It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days.
This landfall has been a long time coming: The hurricane arrived more than two weeks after the National Hurricane Center issued its first advisory for the storm.
“I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth”, said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.
The bulk of the three media briefings held by police chief Dan House surrounded how they were still anticipating the serious and catastrophic storm surge as well as hurricane force winds.
Wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour were reported at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, the hurricane center said.
“A big worry about Hurricane Florence is that it’s not acting like a normal hurricane”, said Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher, reporting from Wilmington, North Carolina.
Gov. Roy Cooper of the Tar Heel state announced a State of Emergency ahead of the storm making its way to the coast.
Cuthbert Langley, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in South Carolina, told HuffPost that the organization has more than 1,500 disaster response volunteers spread across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Farther up the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people waited to be rescued from flooding on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.
Florence’s center will be moving inland very soon, said the National Hurricane Center in its 5 a.m. update, but it’s expected to slow down after it reaches the coast Friday.
Officials have assured them they will be rescued by FEMA teams who are ready to do swift water rescue.
On top of the potentially destructive hurricane, forecasters also put parts of North Carolina on tornado watch.
Hurricane Florence wasn’t expected to make landfall until later Friday morning, but residents in coastal areas were already losing power as fierce gusts lashed the eastern edge of North Carolina.
As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn’t moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
On Friday, the storm’s center will hug the coast of southeast North Carolina, where the most severe effects are expected.