Hurricane Florence makes landfall in Carolinas

WILMINGTON: Hurricane Florence crashed into the Carolinas as a giant, slow-moving storm on Friday, threatening catastrophic flooding while leaving scores in need of rescue from rising waters and hundreds of thousands without power.

The center of the hurricane’s eye came ashore at about 0715 EDT near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, said Florence was set to cover almost all of the state in several feet of water.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted Florence would drop up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries, but authorities said more than 100 people were rescued further north in New Bern, where the downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was under water.

More than 370,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, state officials said. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and that restoring it could take weeks.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Almost 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Cooper said.

There was a threat from tornadoes as Florence made landfall, the NHC said. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state.