Hurricane Florence makes landfall near Wilmington as Category 1 storm


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WILMINGTON, N.C. — Hurricane Florence made landfall early Friday on North Carolina’s coast, bringing extreme winds and threatening massive storm surges as officials reported dozens of water rescues overnight.

The eye of the storm passed over the coast near Wrightsville Beach, northeast of Wilmington, at 7:15 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said.

Here’s the latest on Hurricane Florence:

  • As of 8 a.m. ET Friday, Florence was 10 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 65 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and moving west at around 6 mph.
  • There were more than 455,000 power outages as of early Friday in North Carolina, according to the state department of public safety.
  • New Bern, north of Wilmington, has more than 150 people requiring rescue Friday morning.
  • Wind gusts at Wilmington International Airport reached 105 mph in the storm’s eyewall, the highest wind gust since 1958.
  • The Red Cross said more than 1,600 people spent Thursday night in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in the Carolinas.

The Category 1 storm was downgraded late Thursday, but continued to carry maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and crawled along at just 6 mph. Forecasters warned of “catastrophic” freshwater flooding along the Carolinas and the potential for up to 40 inches of rain in some parts.

More than 455,000 customers were without power Friday morning, according to emergency management officials, as social media users shared videos of snapped trees and water rushing onto coastal streets like rivers.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said there were no immediate reports of deaths, but cautioned the flooding and rising waters could inundate low-lying communities for days.

“This is an uninvited brute that just won’t leave,” Cooper said on “Today.”

The storm’s eye passed over downtown Wilmington at sunrise, capping a long night of groaning winds and pounding rain.

The Cape Fear River, which runs along downtown’s western edge, churned with whitecaps. Just as light began to break, the power cut out, leaving the entire city of about 115,000 residents in a grey shroud. Water was already rising in roads and buildings.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Sasso said his city has gotten more than 100 emergency calls, but crews have had difficulty getting out while the storm rages ashore and there’s been “significant” inland flooding.

“It’s pretty bad. It’s deteriorating very quickly, and it’ll be like this for quite some time,” Sasso told “Today.”

“I’ve been here all my life, and I’ve never seen a hurricane that’s here for two days and pretty much on top of you,” he added.

Jon Schuppe and Erik Ortiz
2018-09-14 12:37:00

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