Hurricane Florence rolls ashore in Carolinas, tears buildings apart
Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90mph winds and terrifying storm surges on Friday, splintering buildings and trapping hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm. Hundreds more had to be rescued elsewhere from rising waters. And others could only hope someone would come for them.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the city of New Bern tweeted. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU."
As Florence pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses.
Ominously, forecasters said the onslaught on the North Carolina-South Carolina coast would last for hours and hours because the hurricane had come almost to a dead stop at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday. The town of Oriental had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days." He called the rain an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless," he said. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave."
There were no immediate reports of any deaths.