Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Dolphins swimming in flood water caused by Hurricane Florence

Dolphins swimming in flood water caused by Hurricane Florence

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

Although it has been downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence is already blasting North and SC with torrential rain and severe floods.

The centre of the slow-moving storm, downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it came ashore Friday afternoon, was almost stalled over SC early Saturday, about 55 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 8 km/h and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

Tropical Storm Florence, downgraded from a hurricane Friday, remains over the Grand Strand Saturday with the National Weather Service warning of potential flash flooding and storm surge.

By tomorrow afternoon, the center of Florence is expected to be across western SC.

In North Carolina, the city of New Bern was particularly hard hit. Dozens more were rescued from a collapsed motel.

The tropical storm's maximum sustained winds are holding steady, remaining at around 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts in heavy rainbands over water, the NWS said.

Blowing ashore with howling 155 km/h winds, Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.

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For people living inland in the Carolinas, maximum peril could come days later as all that water drains, overflowing rivers and causing flash floods.

NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina.

"That's a decision I had to make", he said.

A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at almost 170km/h, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

View of Florence in Wilmington, N.C., on Friday.

On Saturday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned of "epic" levels of rainfall. Roberts said numerous residents live near the Neuse and Trent rivers.

More than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1 1/2 feet by the end of the weekend. Although the storm is passing north of Myrtle Beach, the concern now is that river water from North Carolina will flow into the area and combine with all the water that is already there.

More than 100 people were rescued and up to 75 more were awaiting rescue on Saturday morning, according to a town official.

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