Major structural damage to homes and businesses has been reported by the Onslow County PIO as Hurricane Florence lashes North Carolina early Friday morning. More than 180,000 homes and businesses have lost power as Florence crashed into the coast with heavy surf and torrential rain that triggered flooding and knocked down trees and power lines.
Some 150 people were awaiting rescue in New Bern early Friday morning, the City of New Bern tweeted out. The city saw significant storm surge flooding after the Neuse River overflowed its banks and swept into the town.
Currently ~150 awaiting rescue in New Bern. We have 2 out-of-state FEMA teams here for swift water rescue. More are on the way to help us. WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. #FlorenceNC
River flooding peaked 10.1 feet on the Neuse, according to a USGS gauge. Roads were covered with flood water in what was expected to be the first of many waves of ever-worsening floods for the city.
The first flooding was reported near N.C. 12, the roadway that runs through the Outer Banks – the chain of barrier islands off the North Carolina coast. The state Transportation Department said water and sand cover the highway near Rodanthe and in Avon, Buxton and just north of Hatteras Village.
More than 12.5 inches of rain was measured on Atlantic Beach Thursday night, according to USGS.
Ahead of the storm, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered a mandatory evacuation of all barrier islands; evacuation orders are usually issued locally, and several areas already ordered evacuations ahead of Cooper’s decree.
Carolina Beach officials announced at 10:30 p.m. that Snow’s Cut Bridge was closed.
A storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels was reported at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on the Neuse River in Havelock. A gauge at Oriental on the Neuse River recorded a water height of about 6.0 feet above normal levels, the National Weather Service said.
At a Thursday evening news conference, Gov. Cooper said flooding also had been reported along the Cape Fear River, which flows south of Wilmington, and at the Bogue Sound south of Morehead City. He said wind and waves are driving water onto roads along the coast.
“We in North Carolina have to shift from preparation to determination. We will survive this and endure,” Cooper said.
As Florence’s high winds moved onshore, gas station canopies were ripped from their supports, and trees tumbled.
About 12,000 people are in 126 evacuation shelters, Mike Sprayberry, Emergency Management director, said. The governor said 750,000 to 1 million people heeded the evacuation orders.
As of 1:45 a.m. Friday, 180,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.US.
Tornado warnings were issued at various times for Dare, Craven and Carteret counties.
Strong winds and heavy rain were moving across Camp Lejeune on Thursday evening. The camp’s Facebook page said all but essential operations were secured, vehicular traffic had stopped, and personnel and base residents were required to remain indoors until normal operations resume.
Many flights into and out of North Carolina have been canceled. Airports urge travelers to check with their airline for the most up-to-date information on flights.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport said about half of the 400 arrivals and departures scheduled for Friday have been canceled because of the weather.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport remains open, but nearly 200 flights have been canceled on Friday. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, 126 arrivals and departures have been canceled for Saturday, according to the flightaware.com website.
Wilmington International Airport will have no flights coming or going on Thursday or Friday.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times