By Loraine Aceto
Devastating Hurricane Florence graduated to a Category 5 hurricane recently, causing severe long-lasting damage in North Carolina, South Carolina and Maryland (mostly in the Carolinas). The hurricane strengthened on Sept. 9, “reaching a new peak intensity with 1-minute winds of 140 mph (220 km/h) and a central pressure of 939 mbar (27.7 inHg),” according to Glen Allen Weather. Hurricane Florence strengthened again late Sept. 11. Increasing wind shear caused storm winds to slowly decrease and diminish over the following few days, yet the winds of Hurricane Florence continued growth.
In the evening of Sept. 13, Florence was leveled down to a Category 1 hurricane, as the storm stalled nearing the Carolina coastline. The next day, in the early morning of Sept. 14, Florence made landfall directly south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and weakened further as it slowly moved inland. Florence degenerated to a post-tropical cyclone over West Virginia on Sept. 17, and two days later, the remnants of Florence were absorbed into another frontal storm.
A ridge of high pressure over eastern North America stalled Florence’s forward motion for several days while making landfall; moving forward at only 2 to 3 miles per hour (3.2 to 4.8 km/h), the storm continually dumped heavy rain along coastal areas from Sept. 13, when the outer rainbands first began to be felt, to Sept. 15, when the storm was still stalled out only a few miles west of Wilmington. Coupled with a large storm surge, this caused widespread flooding along a long stretch of the North Carolina coast, from New Bern to Wilmington.
As the storm moved inland, from Sept. 15 to 17, heavy rain caused widespread inland flooding, inundating cities such as Fayetteville, Smithfield, Lumberton, Durham, and Chapel Hill, as major rivers such as the Neuse River, Eno River, Cape Fear River, and Lumber Riverall spilled over their banks. Most major roads and highways in the area experienced some flooding, with large stretches of I-40, I-95, and US Route 70 remaining impassable for days after the storm had passed. Mandatory evacuations were called in the areas which the hurricane affected.
Fifty-one civilians have died as a result of the storm. Forty thousand workers in the U.S. and Canada have made efforts to restore electric power. About 2,200 primary and secondary roads closed due to flooding, including large sections of interstates 40 and 95. South Carolina Governor McMaster received $1.2 billion in federal funding for recovery, including $165 million to the National Flood Insurance Program and $125 million for agriculture. On Sept. 23, the United States Congress aided the Carolinas with $1.7 billion aid in relief. The damage is estimated more than 38 billion U.S. dollars. Please donate towards Hurricane Florence hurricane relief at http://www.redcross.org. Any amount counts and truly helps! Scan the QR Code below to donate now!