THE LATEST: HURRICANE FLORENCE
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina officials say parts of the state could experience a once-in-a-millennia flood as Hurricane Florence dumps rain for days to come.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that Florence is “wreaking havoc” and he’s concerned “whole communities” could be wiped away.
He said parts of the state have seen storm surges as high as 10 feet.
Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said the state is expecting 1,000-year “flood events” in areas between Wilmington and Charlotte.
Cooper said the state hasn’t seen any Florence-related fatalities so far, but he’s concerned about people’s safety as the storm continues.
Forecasters say the center of Hurricane Florence is hovering just inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina.
It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), but stronger wind gusts have been reported.
At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph (6kph), lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).
Rising water forced a North Carolina TV station to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage.
Hours before the storm made landfall Friday, workers at New Bern’s WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio.
A spokesperson for the ABC affliciate said roads around the building were flooding.
The weater service later measured a storm surge 10 feet deep in the city, which lies on the Neuse River near the Atlantic coast. It’s about 90 miles northeast of Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. Friday.
Video posted on Twitter showed a meteorologist telling viewers they’d be taken to coverage from sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach.
Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated.
While Hurricane Florence may have been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, officials warn people in its path that the storm is still dangerous and they should evacuate.
South Carolina officials say more than 400,000 people have evacuated the state’s coast and more than 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters.
Hurricane Florence could bring not only flooding but also landslides to South Carolina. The National Weather Service is forecasting “significant” river flooding, especially in the northeastern portion of the state.
Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of most of the state’s coastline as the storm approaches.