WILMINGTON, N.C. — Blowing ashore with howling 90 mph winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster. At least three people were killed.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3½ feet as the storm crawls westward across North and South Carolina could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river. More than 60 others had to be rescued as a cinderblock motel collapsed.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn’t near an end.

“It’s an uninvited brute who doesn’t want to leave,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

The hurricane was “wreaking havoc” and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its “violent grind across our state for days,” the governor said. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges — the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane — as high as 10 feet.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The governor’s office said a third person was killed while plugging in a generator.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

“I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth,” said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.

By early afternoon, Florence’s winds had weakened to 75 mph, just …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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