Hurricane Florence drenches barrier islands

Residents wade through deep floodwater to retrieve belongings from the Trent Court public housing apartments after the Neuse River went over its banks during Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence likely to affect southeast US energy infrastructure: EIA - Xinhua | English.news.cn

As the Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence's wrath, Duke Energy is preparing for anywhere between 1 and 3 million people to lose power during the storm.

It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 90 miles per hour (135 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing about a storm that forecasters said was 300 miles (480 km) wide.

In Shallotte, N.C., a coastal town near the border with SC, emergency orders forced a Waffle House to shut down - an act that was widely seen as a sign of respect for Florence's imposing size and strength.

The National Hurricane Center said late Thursday that Florence has brought a life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds to the North Carolina Coast. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for unsafe flooding.

Weather and emergency officials are warning people in Florence's path not to interpret maps showing the location of the storm's center, or reports that it's losing top wind strength, as signs that they should relax. At least 1 million people were ordered to evacuate along the coast.

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A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. A father in the same home was transported to the hospital. In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack. Paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

Strong high pressure to the north is likely to enhance winds, wave action and coastal flooding farther north along the coast than what would normally occur.

In certain parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline (particularly the Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC area), storm surges are predicted to be higher than ten feet.

How many people are without power?

Roberts, the city spokeswoman, said Friday preliminary estimates show about 4,300 residences and 300 commercial buildings had been damaged.

"It's not the middle of a hurricane yet, so why not come for a beer?" said Waters, 54. "And remember that rivers keep on rising even after the rain stops". "My wife's in a panic right now".

Areas along the SC coast, including Myrtle Beach, reported power outages Friday morning and early afternoon.

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A lot of evacuees say that home is certainly in the back of their mind and that even though they are here, they are very nervous about what they will see on the news tomorrow.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".

People look out over the surf before Hurricane Florence comes ashore on Carolina Beach, North Carolina on September 13, 2018.

The figure for SC was 170,000 customers.

Forecasts call for the eye to hit land sometime Friday near the Carolinas border.

The state's officials say more than 400,000 people have evacuated the coast and more than 4000 people have taken refuge in shelters as the storm approaches.

The community of Avon on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands reported wind gusts of 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour), while Morehead City on the mainland coast had received 3.6 inches (9.1 cm) of rain in the past 13 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

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