Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Final calls to evacuate as Florence buffets US East Coast

Final calls to evacuate as Florence buffets US East Coast

The outer bands of wind and rain from a weakened but still lethal Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina as the monster storm moved in for a prolonged and potentially catastrophic drenching along the Southeast coast.

Avair Vereen, her fiance and one of her seven children at a shelter in Conway, South Carolina yesterday as several states along the U.S. eastern coast were bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

It was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 kph) before its core slogged into coastal SC hours later.

"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Cat 2, please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Cooper says officials are also in the process of opening more shelters because demand is expected to continue to increase.

The storm's center was about 108 miles (173 km) east of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) but already some 19,000 homes and businesses were without power by mid-afternoon in the Carolinas and Virginia.

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later tonight, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area on Friday", the update said.

It was forecast to make landfall mid-day Friday near Cape Fear, North Carolina, bringing up to 40 inches (1 meter) of rain, and storm surges as high as 13 feet (4 meters), the NHC said.

North Carolina will likely see eight months' worth of rain in two to three days, said National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear in a video briefing.

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Almost 2 million coastal residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders, although it remains unclear how many have actually done so.

"We immediately gave up our hotel rooms so that more rooms are now available to those coming inland", Hunt said.

Florence's winds had dropped from a peak of 225km/h to 169km/h by Thursday, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.

"That's what we're here to do help get the power get back on and see the smiles when the lights turn on", Hernandez said. He said that the hurricane could only be captured on a super-wide lens, even from 400 kilometres up.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.

So far, a state of emergency has been declared in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC.

An estimated 3 million people across the Carolinas could be without power before long, and the lights may be out for weeks in some areas, said the region's largest provider, Duke Energy.

We got the chance to launch a balloon ourselves, which could reach 120,000 feet.

There are reports of more than 80,000 people without power in North Carolina. It's an evacuation 'encouragement, ' " said Hannah Moldenhauer, a spokeswoman for Berkeley County, South Carolina, which is under mandatory evacuation. "I'm not leaving him here".

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