Losing Speed, Tropical Storm Florence Will Continue Slowly Through The Carolinas

People braved the rain to put sandbags in Lumberton North Carolina.               CBS News

People braved the rain to put sandbags in Lumberton North Carolina. CBS News

As Florence first broke on land yesterday 90mph winds struck the coastal areas, but as the storm system moved across land it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm.

Florence's eye made landfall over the Wrightsville Beach water tower about 7:15 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington. Dozens of electric fix trucks massed to respond to damage expected to hit central North Carolina as rainwater collected into rivers headed to the coast.

The storm's arrival brought a 105 miles per hour wind gust at the NWS office about 7 a.m. Friday, said meteorologist Jordan Baker.

Florence flattened trees, damaged buildings and crumpled roads. Though Florence did not arrive with winds as violent as once feared, forecasters got the storm surge and rainfall correct.

Interested in Hurricane Florence?

High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on September 14, 2018.

The parts of the country still in the storm's path have been saturated by summer rains and can not soak up any surplus from Florence.

Rainfall also is swelling waterways: Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the US are forecast to get at least 3 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably getting at least a foot of rain.

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles Saturday to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's onslaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be the next stage of the disaster: widespread, catastrophic flooding inland.

Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week.

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Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.

Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, part of a team using a phone app to locate people in distress. "And so if you already were a community that was under-resourced, this puts a greater strain on your community, having storms like this".

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

As of noon, Swansboro, North Carolina, had almost 31 inches of rain, Emerald Isle had over 23, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot.

And on Saturday evening, Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina.

For more information or to donate go to the ASPCA website.

The National Weather Service says the worst flooding will likely start Saturday night or Sunday morning and will continue for several days.

It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 560km-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. Its winds were down to 40 miles per hour.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 840,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend. "If those shelters fill up, we will establish more shelters", Cooper said. We know how to manage expectations.

"DEQ has been closely monitoring all coal ash impoundments that could be vulnerable in this record breaking rain event", Thorpe said.

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