FEMA launches 'Hurricane Florence Rumor Control' as storm makes landfall

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence

Locals in the Carolina states have said they have little trust in the authorities and fear they would not get much support from central government should the area be devastated by the hurricane, given the response to the devastation caused by Maria to Puerto Rico past year. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place". That's about half the amount Hurricane Harvey - the largest rainfall event in USA history - dropped on the greater Houston area a year ago.

In addition to inundating the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 9 feet along the Carolina coast, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the NHC said.

The waves will meet resistance as Florence approaches landfall, but storm surges up to 13 feet are expected in some areas of North Carolina, according to the weather service.

Little change in strength is expected before the eye of Florence reaches the Carolina coast, with slow weakening expected after the center moves inland or meanders near the coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Parts of the Triangle were under flash flood watches, tropical storm warnings and tornadoes had been spotted as close as Rocky Mount, the NWS said.

Hurricane Florence continues to drop category, but not risky, while hundreds of thousands of people try to get away from the coasts of the two Carolinas and Virginia.

U.S. Southeast power companies said over 634,000 homes and businesses located mostly in North Carolina and SC were without power on Friday after Hurricane Florence hit the coast.

Downpours and flooding would be especially severe, lasting for days, if the storm stalls over land.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the USA electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimetres) of water, he calculated.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. Roof shingles were peeled off a hotel.

Airlines cancelled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday. The department also encourages pet owners to make sure their animals are up to date on vaccinations and wearing identifying tags; bring a three-day supply of food, water, medicine and toys for pets; and have photos on hand in case pets get lost.

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped about 200 people.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

Travel on the state's roads has grown "extremely hazardous" and will get worse, said Jim Trogdon, the North Carolina transportation secretary.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

Florence has caused the evacuation of some 1.5 million people with millions more likely to see some impact from the howling winds.

As of 1 p.m. ET, more than a foot of rain had fallen in many towns in southeastern North Carolina.

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