Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, but its crawling pace and overwhelming storm surges are setting up hours and hours of destruction and human suffering with dozens desperately awaiting rescue in one flooded town alone.
The Category 1 hurricane, with wind of more than 90 mph and dumping 3 inches of rain an hour, made landfall at 7:15 a.m. ET near Wrightsville Beach, just east of Wilmington.
Florence’s centre may linger for another whole day along coastal North and South Carolina, punishing homes with crushing winds and floods and endangering those who’ve stayed behind.
In the besieged North Carolina town of New Bern, rescuers plucked more than 100 people from rising waters, but about 150 more had to wait when conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet.
“In a matter of seconds, my house was flooded up to the waist, and now it is to the chest,” said Peggy Perry, who along with three relatives, was trapped early Friday in her New Bern home. “We are stuck in the attic.”
Officials urged residents there to take shelter at the highest points of their homes, including rooftops.
Florence’s rain will reach 40 inches in some parts of the Carolina coasts, and gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighbourhoods, forecasters said.
By Friday morning, Florence had sapped power to nearly 437,000 customers in North and South Carolina, emergency officials said, pushed in a storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels in Morehead City, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said.
More than 60 people were also forced to evacuate a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina after part of the roof collapsed, city officials said.
More than 1,300 flights along the East Coast through Friday were also cancelled.
Hours earlier, streets along the coast had been transformed into raging streams, and massive waves surged along the Outer Banks.
“There’s already water (in the) bottom part of people’s houses,” Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, said Thursday night. “This is just the beginning.”