University of NC at Wilmington closed

Associated Press

WILMINGTON, N.C. (September 14, 2018) — Officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have announced the school will remain closed until further notice because of the effects of Hurricane Florence.

A memo sent out to school personnel Friday said officials “cannot yet effectively or comprehensively assess the impact on our campus.” Because of that, the school said it is unable to determine when it will resume the fall semester. The school will remain closed until further notice.

The memo said the school will give students and employees as much notice as possible before it reopens, giving weight to travel challenges and other factors. Officials said they can’t determine how the closure will affect the academic calendar.

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7:15 p.m.

Dozens of people in the North Carolina town of Belhaven had to be rescued from the rising waters of Pungo River and a creek that together hem in the sea-level community.

The downtown area including the municipal building and nearby homes were swamped, starting with the high tide on Thursday evening. Roads into the town of about 1,500 people remained submerged Friday, forcing the retreat of a county ambulance truck and an electricity company repair vehicle that tried to enter from the east and west along the town’s main road.

Mayor Ricky Credle was holed up at the municipal building Friday afternoon. He says the town is “closed off” amid the highest water downtown that he had ever seen.

Credle says the sheriff’s department used a high-axle truck to rescue some residents who wanted to leave, dropping them off at Red Cross shelters.

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7 p.m.

Hikers are having to get off the Appalachian Trail as Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump heavy rains, causing floods and other dangerous conditions in areas the trail passes through.

The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have closed portions of the trail in North Carolina and Virginia because of the storms.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is urging hikers to get off the trail and seek shelter. The nonprofit said dangerous conditions could include falling trees, flash floods and mudslides.

The Appalachian Trail stretches more than 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine and has more than 3 million visitors each year. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says more than 3,000 people attempt to hike the entire trail each year.

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7 p.m.

More than three quarters of a million power outages have been reported in the Carolinas as Tropical Storm Florence slowly creeps across the two states.

Emails and website tallies from North Carolina utilities show more than 750,000 outages had been reported in North Carolina as of late Friday afternoon.

Poweroutage.us tracks outages across the country. The service says more than 107,000 outages were reported in South Carolina.

The storm’s top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph (110 kph), and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph (6 kph).

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.

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5:50 p.m.

Swift-water rescue teams are assisting residents of one historic North Carolina community swamped by Hurricane Florence.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press more than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help.

She says crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground.

Roberts says there is widespread damage and power outages in the city but so far no reports of deaths or injuries.

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4:50 p.m.

Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph (110 kph), and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph (6 kph).

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.

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4:25 p.m.

South Carolina’s most popular tourist destination is riding out Hurricane Florence without major problems so far.

In North Myrtle Beach, rain has been falling nearly all day and tree branches and limbs are on some roads. The power is out on the main strip, but almost no vehicles are on the six-lane highway through the center of town other than police.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling says three-quarters of the area’s 37,000 electric customers are without power.

To the south, Myrtle Beach was faring better. Power outages were spotty, and Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea says no significant property damage has been reported.

No areas in South Carolina reported problems with surge from the ocean as winds continued from the land pushing water away.

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4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is preparing to travel to areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will travel to the region “early to middle of next week.”

She adds his trip will take place “once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.”

Aides say Trump has been monitoring the massive storm from the White House, and he has taken to Twitter to encourage those in its path to listen to their local authorities for how best to remain safe.

The storm, blamed for at least three fatalities, has inundated parts of the Carolina coast with heavy rain and high winds.

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3:05 p.m.

A mother and infant in North Carolina are dead after a tree fell on their home - the first two fatalities of Hurricane Florence.

The Wilmington Police Department said Friday that the two were killed when a tree fell on their house. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment. No other information was given.

The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.

Forecasters have been predicting catastrophic flash flooding. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says more than 16 inches of rain have fallen at locations in southeast North Carolina and another 20 to 25 inches is on the way.

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2 p.m.

A weakening Hurricane Florence is almost at a standstill over southeastern North Carolina.

It just barely has Category 1 hurricane strength with top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

At 2 p.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west at 5 mph (7 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said Florence was forecast to keep moving farther inland across the Carolinas through the weekend before turning toward the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 170 miles (280 kilometers).

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1:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina and it’s only going to get worse.

Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth said catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue to worsen Friday.

He said that the heavy rainfall for southeast North Carolina is only one-third to one-quarter the way over.

“Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region,” Roth wrote in the weather center’s rain forecast discussion.

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1 p.m.

Flights are grounded at several airports in the Southeast as Hurricane Florence barges through the region.

By midday Friday, airlines had canceled more than 2,100 U.S. flights from the storm’s approach on Wednesday through Sunday, according to tracking service FlightAware.

The region’s two largest airports, in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, had more than 200 cancellations on Friday. That’s about half the flights in Raleigh and one in eight at Charlotte.

That’s not much compared with last year’s Hurricane Harvey, which flooded runways at two major airports and caused airlines to scrub more than 11,000 flights in Houston alone.

The Federal Aviation Administration says Charleston International Airport in South Carolina isn’t expected to reopen until Monday night. Wilmington International in North Carolina expects to reopen at noon Saturday.

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12:25 a.m.

Florence’s total rainfall will likely be staggeringly huge.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue (MOW-ee) of weathermodels.com calculates that Hurricane Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain in seven days over the Carolinas and Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

That doesn’t quite measure up to the 25 trillion gallons Harvey dropped on Texas and Louisiana last year. Maue says Harvey stalled longer and stayed closer to the coast, which enabled it to keep sucking moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay. It’s enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly four inches (10 centimeters) of water.

That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet (68 billion cubic meters). It’s enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet (1.1 kilometers) of water, more than twice as high as the island’s tallest building.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of water.

Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.

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