All through the night as Hurricane Florence began hammering this city near the North Carolina coast, Paul Canady’s phone buzzed and beeped with messages from members of Christ Episcopal Church, where he serves as rector.
A collapsed tree leaned against a nearby house where a husband and wife live. A family huddled in their attic to escape the rising floodwaters. There was no electricity anywhere.
But by Saturday morning, the water was receding, the rain had abated and Canady’s flock appeared safe. So he drove downtown to see how the church itself had weathered the storm.
With a plodding pace belying still-unspent fury, an increasingly deadly Tropical Storm Florence pushed deeper into the Carolinas on Saturday, inundating homes, toppling trees and pushing rivers far beyond their banks as rescuers in boats and helicopters rushed to keep pace.
In Fayetteville, N.C., which is about 90 miles inland from the coast, the Cape Fear River is forecast to rise 50 feet by Tuesday morning (from 12 feet to 62 feet). The National Weather Center says flood stage is 35 feet. Says Twitter user Jack Sillin @JackSillin: "So think about where you would stand on the banks usually, then go up 4-5 stories!"
“Two adults, two children.” The call arrived after Sgt. Nick Muhar’s unit had already rescued more than 80 people threatened by Hurricane Florence.
The North Carolina National Guard truck pulled out of the New Bern, N.C., fire station and sped through flooded streets. The cab was heated like a sauna to keep the windshield from fogging up. A can of chewing tobacco rested on the dashboard.
Muhar’s truck arrived at a brick apartment building where the overflowing Neuse River swamped a playground and lapped at front doors. Inside, a family scrambled to gather their belongings. The electricity had gone out, and a knee-high waterline was etched into the wall.
WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington. A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house. The father was transported to NHRMC with injuries. https://t.co/FC5PAhuxig