Hurricane Florence: 'Catastrophic' storm surge could cause 3-metre-deep flooding

Hurricane Florence: 'Catastrophic' storm surge could cause 3-metre-deep flooding

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.

Hurricane Florence has hit the USA coast leaving streets inundated with ocean water and tens of thousands of homes without power.

"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change.

Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.

"The combination of a risky storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", the hurricane center advisory said.

As the storm widens - and lingers - Florence has increased potential to produce tornadoes, flash flooding, mudslides and a catastrophic storm surge.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

None of the people rescued were injured.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas 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.

"We tell them to remain calm, not to panic, we will rescue them", Roberts said.

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Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina , Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. Governors of those states have already declared states of emergency, as have the governors of Virginia and Maryland.

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"Lots of water, lots of wind, lots of storm surge".

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m.

Forecasters say the center of the eye of Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles north of Wilmington.

Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said radar and rain gauges indicated some areas got as much as 2 1/2 feet of rain, which he called "absolutely staggering".

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

Once it makes landfall, the storm is expected to stall, bringing record-shattering amounts of rain of up to 30 to 40 inches in some places.

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.

On Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", warning it could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land.

The storm's center was about 50 miles south of Morehead City at around 11 p.m. EST (0300 GMT Friday).

Authorities main concern with Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, rather than high winds.

Wind speeds are kicking up far from the coast in central SC as Hurricane Florence slowly makes its way along the coast. The Category 1 storm's winds have weakened in intensity as it neared the coast, but forecasters say the real hazard from the storm will most likely be the rains and flooding as the storm moves southwest into SC before turning north.

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