Hurricane Florence: Hundreds in New Bern awaiting rescue from 'catastrophic' storm surge

ESA  NASA

ESA NASA

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been put under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders to avoid what emergency officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm. The city's official Twitter account urged residents to move to the upper floors of their homes.

There are five swift water rescue teams working in New Bern, assisted by the Cajun Navy volunteer rescue group, says Gene Hodges, assistant county manager with Craven County government, tells NPR's Brakkton Booker.

In the 5 a.m. ET advisory, Florence was 205 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 15 mph.

Daniels said there are no reports of injuries at this time and recommends people get out if they're able to safely do so but warned against driving in standing water.

The bulk of the three media briefings held by police chief Dan House surrounded how they were still anticipating the serious and catastrophic storm surge as well as hurricane force winds.

High winds and storm surge from the hurricane hit Swansboro, North Carolina, bending and uprooting trees and flooding streets. She adds: "You have wind, high water, rushing water, downed trees and downed power lines - not to mention it's dark out". And this is just the beginning.

Strom surge that was projected between nine and twelve feet in Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and Neuse rivers was expected to cause a "tremendous amount of inland flooding", said Neil Jacobs, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We probably will be getting heavy winds and rain for the next few days.

As US citizens in the path of Hurricane Florence gear up for it, people have been warned and advisories are being issued in the media.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the USA, including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 90 centimetres of rain, touching off severe flooding. But authorities warn Florence has an enormous wind field as it zeroes in on the Southeast U.S. coast, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and is moving slowly, at 6 miles per hour. "I've lived here all my life".

"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director.

As the storm slowly churned toward the shore, people who chose not to evacuate got caught in the floodwaters. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.

The National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, in a tweet called the storm surge "catastrophic". Video footage showed parking lots in the riverfront town of New Bern turn into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell. "This could be enough to knock you off your feet", says Navarro.

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