By Max Sano || Contributing Writer
This article will be based off of information, data, and news on the storm prior to Friday, September 14th. As of right now, this is what there is to know about Hurricane Florence and how it is affecting North Carolina and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region.
At least three storms have battered the region since 2008: Hurricanes Irene, Arthur, and Matthew in 2011, 2014, and 2016, respectively. The strongest of the three, Hurricane Irene, had winds with gusts up to up to 135 miles when it hit the North Carolinian coast. According to the National Weather Service, on September 13th—one day before the storm reached North Carolina—Hurricane Florence approached the coast as a Category 2 Hurricane, with winds of up to 110 miles an hour. Up and down the coast of the Carolinas, waters were expected to rise from four to eight feet. Two towns in North Carolina, Greenville and Jacksonville, were predicted to have a storm surge of over 12 feet as of Thursday evening. The strongest winds were expected to reach Wilmington, NC early Friday morning.
The eye of Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday around 7:15 a.m. Hurricane-force winds of up to 80 mph are expected to hit coastal counties and move further inland throughout the day. What was originally forecasted as a Category 4 storm has been downgraded to Category 1 when it hit the coast this morning. Upwards of hundreds of thousands of people are expected to lose power over the course of today and into the weekend as the storm slowly moves inland across the Carolinas. By 2:00 p.m., Hurricane Florence was about 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, and the wind dropped to 75 miles an hour.
Four deaths are already linked to the hurricane, which include a mother and her infant daughter when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington. Separately, a woman died of a heart attack this morning in Hampstead. Emergency responders were unable to reach her due to downed trees. Local authorities also reported that someone passed away while turning on a generator in Lenoir County. Some 300 people were rescued throughout the course of Thursday evening to Friday morning in New Bern, NC. They were saved from flood-marooned houses, with 40 more people still awaiting help.
The amount of casualties and displaced people thus far demonstrate the necessity for the state and federal governments to cooperate over the course of this storm. In the days leading up to Hurricane Florence, mandatory evacuations were issued by the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Governor Cooper of North Carolina commented this morning that “the state’s rivers are rising, and will continue to rise, in some places to record levels.” Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government officials outlined a vast deployment of resources: 1,100 FEMA rescuers in North and South Carolina, 40 aircraft, more than 7,100 members of the Coast Guard, 500 medical personnel deployed to shelters, and the deployment of the National Guard of both Carolinas.
In spite of all the preparation, there is still much more potential for damage in the coming days, with clean up and recovery expected to cost into the billions.
First-year Max Sano is a Contributing Writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org