Sept. 14, 2018. 11:09 a.m.
For more information on Hurricane Florence and Ocracoke news, click here
By Peter Vankevich and Connie Leinbach
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. today as a category 1 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center reported wind gusts up to 95 to 105 mph.
More than 30 inches of rain has fallen near Atlantic Beach, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey. That would be the highest 24-hour rainfall in North Carolina history, far eclipsing a 22-inch storm in Mitchell County in the mountains in 1916, according to the N.C. Climate Office.
Erik Heden, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morehead City, said in a webinar this morning that more than 300 rescues have already taken place in New Bern.
Whereas catastrophic damage has occurred in much of the eastern region and more to come inland with heavy rain and river flooding, Ocracoke had a surprisingly quiet night and the worst may be over.
Chad Macek, proprietor of Oscar’s House Bed and Breakfast, reported a downed tree in his back yard. At 7:30 a.m. this morning, he estimated winds at 30 mph and no rain and electric power that went down during the night was restored around 9 a.m.
Heden said that although Ocracoke may be spared from a storm surge as the winds have shifted, he cautioned that islanders should not let their guard down as a tornado warning is in effect.
The weather forecast for Ocracoke for the next 48 hours calls for rain and wind, and wind gusts up to 45 mph. High tides in the next few days will be crucial. High tide today is at 11:40 a.m.
Mainland Hyde County and other counties in the region remain under major flooding threats, especially in areas near rivers.
Kris Cahoon Noble, Hyde County manager, reported this morning from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the Hyde County sheriff’s office that Swan Quarter is not flooded but is without electricity.
“The dike system did what is was designed to do,” she said. “We’re high and dry.”
A team of sheriff deputies, N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission and highway patrol officers are out now assessing the county and will have a report later, she said.
“We were really blessed,” she said, but Belhaven and (Little) Washington have flooding.
“The water is up to the stop signs in Belhaven,” she said.
As for Ocracoke, she said there has been significant dune loss.
“We will assess it at low tide,” she said, which is around 6 p.m. today.
Engelhard and Sladesville areas are seeing flooding comparable to that of Hurricane Irene in 2011, said Donnie Shumate, Hyde County public information officer, in a press release at 11:30 a.m. Flood levels in Rose Bay are also rising. There are multiple locations on Hwy 264 where water is flowing over. Do not attempt to drive though water that is flowing over the street. A couple inches of flowing water can move a car off the road.
Noble, along with Shumate and several other county officials, has been camping out in the EOC for the last few days. The Red Cross brought lots of food before yesterday when conditions were still good, she said.
Tideland EMC, reported that as of 5 a.m., 77 percent of their service area is without power.
Here’s a rundown by county:
Beaufort County: 8,379
Pamlico County: 4,515
Craven County: 2,742
Hyde County: 1,888
Washington County: 120
Dare County: no outages reported
At this time, there are no areas of Tideland’s service territory deemed safe for work. Forecasts suggest winds may not sufficiently subside to resume work until Saturday morning with the exception of the northernmost areas north of the Pamlico River. Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach at 7:30 a.m. The next high tide is 11 a.m.
The hardest hit areas of Tideland territory are likely facing power restoration efforts lasting more than a week. Residents should take that into account if they evacuated the area before deciding to return home. Once damage assessments can safely be conducted Tideland will have a much better idea of what lies ahead to fully restore power.
Downed power lines should be considered energized. Even if utility power is off, privately owned generators can re-energize power lines if they backfeed due to lack of a properly installed transfer switch.
Tideland members should report new power outages by calling 1-800-882-1001. The public may track power restoration progress via the cooperative’s website, www.tidelandemc.com, which includes a link to Tideland’s outage map and social media accounts.
Dare County reported this morning that N.C. Highway 12 on Hatteras Island remains closed due to ocean overwash and will remain closed until both the road and its bridges can be cleared of debris, inspected for structural damage, and repaired as necessary. Inspections will take place as soon as conditions allow.