"Please send help": Florence storm surge leaves 100 stranded in NC city

Federal officials had said midweek they weren't concerned about that facility or five other nuclear plants in the storm's path, calling them "hardened".

Long accustomed to its residents evacuating north or to other parts of the state when hurricanes threaten, Florida was in the unusual position this week of accommodating diverted cruise ships and hotel-room seekers hoping to escape the wrath of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall Friday morning in North Carolina. Pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

From a monorail heading to the Magic Kingdom, Jordan said by telephone that it was weird going to "the most magical place on Earth" when she didn't know what was in store from Hurricane Florence.

A Navy statement says the decision comes after inspections of the region's port and airfield.

As Florence's wind speeds continue to slow to around 90mph (150km/h), intense volumes of rainfall and storm surges are expected to account for most of the storm's damage, with officials warning of the potential for catastrophic flooding over the weekend.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of 1 to 3 1/2 feet (30 centimetres to 1 metre) as the storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and at least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 miles per hour (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore.

The storm has sustained wind speeds of 90 miles per hour, and 40 inches of rain could fall over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"This is an uninvited brute that just won't leave", Cooper said on "Today". "This water is through the first floor of your home, into the second".

The 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.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

In the besieged city of New Bern, rescuers had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters by midmorning Friday, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet, officials said.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people were safely rescued in the town of 30,000 residents.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses are without electricity in North and SC.

Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.

"The rainfall is going to be the big impact for the area", Hawkins said. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

  • Joe Gonzales