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16 September 2018, 10:13 | Ross Houston
WILMINGTON (North Carolina) • Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland yesterday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping sheets of rain in the Carolinas where five people have died.
The center of the hurricane´s eye came ashore at about 7:15 a. m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
"Were expecting additional rainfall across southeastern central into southern North Carolina and across Northern parts of SC where additional rainfall amounts that could exceed 10 inches".
And weather officials said more is coming, labeling as "extreme" the impacts from storm surge and flash flooding.
Some parts of Burgaw commonly flood during heavy rains, and officials went to those parts before Florence's arrival to tell residents there to evacuate.
In Goldsboro, North Carolina, home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, roads that frequently flood were already closed Saturday by rushing water.
More than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet before Sunday is out.
"I can not overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them you are risking your life", Gov. Roy Cooper said. It continues to chug west, slowing down from 5 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour. But with half of the storm still out over the Atlantic, Florence continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it onshore.
Cooper called Florence the "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities.
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Coastal and river communities on the north side of Florence are getting the worst of the flooding as the hurricane swirls onto land pushing a life-threatening storm surge. "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns". "Don't drive across standing or moving water", the governor said, urging people to heed evacuation orders. Record flooding is expected Tuesday on the Cape Fear at a crest of 62 feet there.
In the Fayetteville area, John Rose owns a furniture business with stores less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the Cape Fear River. Rain-soaked furniture workers helped him quickly empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water".
If Florence doesn't wipe out oceanfront homes on stilts along the Carolinas coast, rising sea levels will. Florence lashed low-lying barrier islands that experience some of the fastest rates of sea level rise observed anywhere in the world, almost an inch (2.5 centimeters) a year.
"Usually we'd be cleaning roads and done by now", Smith said. Sutton was retired in 2013 and the company has been excavating ash to remove to safer lined landfills. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including lead and arsenic. About 400 people have been rescued.
Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the "Cajun Navy" - civilians equipped with light boats, canoes and air mattresses - who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighborhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to reach the Knox house.
The 18th century town, with a population of 30,000, has been badly flooded, with 4,200 homes damaged. There had been no reports of injuries or fatalities, though most of the city was without power and thousands of buildings had been damaged, she said.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
Florence's remnants are expected to keep traveling north and then northeast and could drop several inches of rain in eastern Tennessee and eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
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Hundreds of people had to be rescued in New Bern, North Carolina, as they called for help overnight, city officials said. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 miles per hour (34 kph) on Friday morning in Columbia.
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Governor Cooper said there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to". Wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour were reported at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, the hurricane center said.
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Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. Airlines canceled about 1,200 flights and counting, and some airports in the Carolinas virtually shut down.