Hundreds rescued as Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas

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(United States) – Emergency crews rescued hundreds of stranded people as Hurricane Florence pounded the US East Coast with driving rain, howling winds and dangerous storm surge.

“The storm is wreaking havoc on our state,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. “We´re deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away.”

Some of the worst flooding from the monster storm was in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, where the Neuse River overflowed its banks, flooding streets and trapping many people in their homes.

“WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU,” the New Bern authorities said on Twitter.

Governor Cooper said no fatalities had been reported yet but there have been “several hundred” rescue operations and “there are still some people they need to get to.”

“Rescue workers are working in dangerous conditions that will only get worse today,” he said.

Cooper said the Neuse River had seen storm surge as high as 10 feet (three meters) and the amount of rainfall was a “1,000-year event.”

He said 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:15 am (1115 GMT) in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days.

At 11:00 am (1500 GMT), the storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour) and moving west-southwest at three mph (six kph).

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) described Florence as a “slow mover” and said it had the potential to dump historic amounts of rainfall on North and South Carolina, as much as 40 inches (one meter) in some places.