Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas

Kahekili Highway near the Waihee River Bridge was evacuated after a flash flood breached the property Sept. 12 2018 in Maui Hawaii

The outer reaches of Hurricane Florence began lashing coastal North Carolina with heavy winds and flooded roads on Thursday ahead of an expected landfall that will bring walls of water and lingering downpours to parts of the US East Coast.

There is around 156,068 people that have lost power and police have suspended their services in Morehead City and other coastal cities, warning any residents who remain in the evacuation zone that they will be without emergency services until the storm passes.

At time of writing, Hurricane Florence is inching towards the coastline, and the combination of intense rainfall and gnarly swell threaten to engulf low-lying land in the region.

The entire town of Carolina Beach is just five feet above sea level, which will be no match for the expected storm surge of 13 feet or more.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday. Florence, a storm expected to significantly impact the U.S. It could then head west and southwest. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm Carolina Beach.

To put the rain in perspective, Wilmington's three-day rainfall record was 19.66 inches set in 2010, said Jordan Baker, a meteorologist with the NWS Wilmington office.

The impact is expected to be similar to that of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston area a year ago, Feltgen said.

"Because of the slow movement of the storm, the rain is going to have plenty of time keep piling up", said Feltgen.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said, "and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew".

The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland.

Forecasters said it appears the storm will make landfall somewhere around Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which sits just east of Wilmington. "So far, the power is on - Waffle House is open".

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".

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.

"Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. "They pulled out all the furniture out of the yard".

"When that last ferry pulls out.it's unnerving to see it pull away and know, 'That's the last chance I have of getting off this island, '" she said Wednesday.

The Pentagon has dispatched two ships and a Marine unit offshore to provide help if needed.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.

Virginia and Georgia are also under states of emergency, but it's North and SC that are positioned to suffer the worst of the storm's wrath. "So will the power lines, as the trees fall down". An additional 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were told to flee. "Now is not the time to let down our guard", he said.

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