UPDATE: Fri. 9:49 a.m.: Florence’s eye moves offshore toward S. Carolina

High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., this morning. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Wind speeds are kicking up far from the coast in central South Carolina as Hurricane Florence slowly makes its way along the coast.

Hurricane Florence is dumping rain on North Carolina and pushing a storm surge taller than most humans onto communities near the coast.

The center of the eye of the hurricane made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and was moving slowly westward just south of Wilmington.

Coastal and river communities on the north side of Florence are getting the worst of the flooding as the hurricane swirls onto land pushing a life-threatening storm surge.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power this morning, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation’s electrical grid.

Forecasters say the eye of Hurricane Florence is wobbling slowly southwestward just off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, near the border with South Carolina.

The hurricane’s top sustained winds have dropped to 85 mph, while it moves slowly toward South Carolina at 6 mph.

At 9 a.m. the center of the hurricane was about 55 miles east of Myrtle Beach.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 mph this morning in Columbia. That’s about 220 miles from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m., coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Wind gusts as high as 60 mph were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the U.S. electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow less than an hour after the hurricane made landfall in North Carolina, Perry says “we’ve done this many times before. We know how to manage expectations. We know how to prepare our plants for these types of major events.”

Perry says his department has been in contact with power companies and gas pipeline operators. He says that “over the years the state government and the federal government have become very coordinated in their ability to manage the pre-deployment of assets (and) the response to the citizens of those states, and we will soon be into the recovery.”

COMMENTS