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Hurricane Center: Florence Makes Landfall in N. Carolina

  • High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C.,Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

  • Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

  • Russ Lewis looks for shells along the beach as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. "I woke up this morning and couldn't hear the ocean. It's kind of spooky," said Lewis. "You don't expect to see the ocean this calm." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Russ Lewis looks for shells along the beach as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. "We might get lucky we might not we'll find out," said Lewis of the storm. (AP Photo/David Goldman)



Associated Press
Friday, September 14, 2018

Wilmington, N.C. — Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina early this morning, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 6 mph and still drawing energy from the ocean.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore, the National Hurricane Center said.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and more than 460,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation’s electrical grid.

Forecasters said “catastrophic” freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out to 195 miles.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa, of Wilmington, sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

“(It’s) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying,” said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.

The rising sea crept toward the two-story home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro. Winds knocked down trees all over.

“(Water) is as high as it’s ever been and waves are breaking on my point, which is normally grass,” said Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press. “Trees are blowing down in the wind. Nothing’s hit the house yet, but it’s still blowing.”

In Jacksonville, next to Camp Lejeune, the Triangle Motor Inn was coming apart early this morning. Firefighters and police fought wind and rain going door-to-door to pull people out after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof began to collapse. They formed a convoy to an emergency operations center, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds held at about 90 mph. A gust of 105 mph was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.