The center of Hurricane Florence has smashed into North Carolina with a storm surge of up to 10 feet that has pushed miles inland and screaming winds of 90 mph.
More than 60 people including children had to be pulled from a collapsing motel in Jacksonville at the height of the storm and many more who defied evacuation orders were waiting to be rescued.
Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7.15am with winds of up to 90 mph. At least 12,000 people sought refuge in shelters in the state and more than 415,000 homes and businesses were reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached.
The hurricane knocked a basketball-sized hole in the wall of the Triangle Motor Inn causing cinder blocks to crumble and the roof to fall down – while residents were still in their rooms.
Police and fire crews had to force their way into rooms to rescue guests who were all taken to a shelter. None were injured.
Rescue teams were also working to free around 150 people trapped in New Bern as city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts warned that the storm surge will increase further as Florence passes over the area.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Neuse River near the city is more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) high after it burst its banks on Thursday night.
The city warned that people ‘may need to move up to the second story’ but told them to stay put as ‘we are coming to get you.’
Even before Florence hit land, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported ‘life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds’ along the coast of the Carolinas leaving coastal streets inundated with ocean water.
A resident in New Bern, North Carolina, filmed the inside of their flooded home showing ocean water lapping at their feet as Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday
Wind-whipped waves lash the coast at Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday. Nearly all residents had evacuated following warnings from officials
Florence’s fiercest winds will linger around the coast for hours since the storm was moving forward at only 6 mph. Pictured: The hurricane arriving at Wilmington on Friday
The Hotel Ballast on the Cape Fear River was starting to show signs of structural damage (see ceiling) during the hurricane on Friday
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7.15am on Friday with winds of up to 90 mph
A map from the National Hurricane center shows the probable path of Hurricane Florence over the following week
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence’s leading edge whipped the Carolina coast on Thursday night to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
Like an out of control freight train, Florence entered into Wilmington, a port city of 120,000 people on the North Carolina coast, and started pummeling the city with 100 mph winds early friday.
The city was plunged into darkness after losing its power grid shortly after 5am during some of the fiercest wind bursts.
Damages are starting to appear as large swaths of the roof of Hotel Ballast, a downtown tourism staple, are being peeled off one by one and sucked out into the sky.
The Cape Fear River, which usually lazies from east to west through the city’s historic district, has been transformed into rapids.
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Source: Daily Mail