Some areas of North Carolina saw nearly a foot of rain just a few hours, and footage showed sea levels begin to surge inland.
"While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States' fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million", AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said. Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the electricity went out. At this time, Florence was a Category 1 hurricane.
"Because of the size of the storm we are going to see impacts to nearly every customer in north Carolina", Davis Montgomery, the district manager for Duke Energy, said.
"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said. "Today the threat becomes a reality". Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC could see 20 to 30 inches of rainfall; some isolated areas could see 40 inches.
Listen up, Mother Nature, we are not about to be hit by a hurricane without putting up a fight the best way we know how...by roasting the storm through the use of jokes on the internet. Be SAFE! " Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
A surge is also likely along portions of the SC coast. The footage also shows floating debris and high winds. Some of the few people still left in Nags Head on the Outer Banks took photos of angry waves topped with white froth. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said.
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Thousands had taken shelter in emergency facilities by Thursday night. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.
A weather station in Atlantic Beach recorded a total of 12.73 inches for a 24-hour period. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight".
Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers in the Carolinas, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.
After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles out.
Hurricane Florence strengthened a bit, but then tapped on the brakes as it approached the North Carolina coast Thursday evening.
To the east of that system is Tropical Storm Helene, which is blowing stronger with maximum winds at approximately 100 km/h.
That mix of impressions - a respect for this storm's sheer size and the massive amount of rain and seawater it brings, along with a resignation to storms being part of life on the coast - is also part of the reaction in low-lying areas to the north.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".