Fun & Games

US coast battered by wind, rain as Hurricane Florence closes in

Hurricane Florence

battered the Carolinas Friday with howling winds, life-threatening storm

surges and torrential rains as it came to close making landfall in what

officials warned is a once in a lifetime event.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the

monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and

dangerous.

Reports said coastal streets in North Carolina were flooded and winds

bent trees to the ground as the storm, which has been downgraded several

times in recent days, weakened and is slower moving than before, prepared to

make landfall Friday.

Nearly 300,000 customers in North Carolina were reported to be without

power as the outer band of the storm approached.

Footage from US TV outlets showed raging waters hitting piers and jettys

and rushing across coastal roads in seaside communities.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported life-threatening storm

surge and hurricane-force winds along the North Carolina coast.

In its 0900 GMT advisory, the center said Florence was over the Atlantic

Ocean about 25 miles (35 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina and

moving northwest at six miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour).

It added that the maximum sustained winds were 90 miles per hour.

Florence is now at the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson

scale.

The storm is about to make landfall in North Carolina, the center said.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the

Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of

flooding, the NHC said.

With winds picking up along the coastline earlier Thursday, federal and

state officials had issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path

of the once in a lifetime weather system.

This storm will bring destruction, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

said. Catastrophic effects will be felt.

In Wilmington, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified,

causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High

School near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way,' she said. If

we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing.

But we can't replace us so we decided to come here.

� Monster storm surge expected �

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

said Florence's forward motion had slowed and it was not expected to make

landfall in the Carolinas until some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening

or Saturday morning.

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center

of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended nearly 200 miles out.

Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain,

forecasters said.

This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged

significant river flooding, the NHC said.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

(FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: Inland flooding

kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see, he

said.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia

are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others

live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina beach resort, was virtually deserted with

empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states � North

Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million

to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and

that it could take weeks to restore.

� 'I'm not worried at all'

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in

Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather

with his dog Canelo.

The shelters are not taking dogs, Ramirez said. I'm not leaving him

here.

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up

to get ice from a vending machine � $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

I have no generator, said Petra Langston, a nurse. I learned from the

past to keep the ice in the washing machine.

Perched on the porch of his home, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly

awaiting Florence's arrival, beer in hand.

I built this house myself, so I'm not worried at all, I know it's

solid, he said. I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have

beers and video games.

The only thing missing in there is a hot lady.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)