Hurricane Florence: Hundreds in New Bern awaiting rescue from 'catastrophic' storm surge

Saturday, 15 Sep, 2018

On Friday morning, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, bringing extreme winds, surging seas, and huge amounts of rain to the coast.

"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said. "Of course, I live in New Bern, I'm a property owner here, I have friends that live here and have property here, work here, and it's devastating to see our lovely community and parts of it underwater, and to even worry about my own home". The 400-mile-wide hurricane has unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses.

Coastal streets flowed with ocean water, and more than 460,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid. The town of Oriental had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.

It is expected to move across parts of south-eastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. But the danger comes not so much from the wind as from the storm surges, which could raise the sea level to 4 meters in some points and flood the coast.

"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.

Helping with rescues there were members of the so-called Cajun Navy, a group of Louisiana-based volunteers who became famous during last year's Hurricane Harvey, locals said on Twitter.

Hurricane Florence is moving at a speed of 6mph, and as of the NHC update at 5am AST (10am BST), was located 10 miles east of Wilmington.

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge. Although the storm has weakened to a Category 2, it's still expected to bring some bad weather to the area this weekend.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people waited to be rescued from flooding on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter. She said she is anxious that if she evacuates, she'll get caught up in the massive flooding that's expected to affect the region.

Allison James, who lives at Huntersville, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, says based on reports this area would not be directly affected.