North Carolinians were warned to find shelter and stay there Thursday, as Category 3 Hurricane Dorian brought flooding and tornadoes to coastal areas.
“The message this morning is: Get to safety and stay there. Don’t let your guard down,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news conference.
“This won’t be a brush by, whether it comes ashore or not. The eye of the storm will be close enough to cause extensive damage in North Carolina. Conditions in eastern North Carolina are deteriorating rapidly,” he said.
A tornado touched down in Brunswick County early Thursday and caused extensive damage to The Farm community, ripping roofs off multiple homes.
A water spout was also photographed off Emerald Isle on the Bogue Banks, and a funnel cloud was recorded near a fire station in Pender County, according to the National Weather Service.
Cooper noted sustained winds of 100 mph with gusts of up to 125 were expected, with storm surge as high as 7 feet.
“Hundreds of thousands will lose power, and that has already begun,” he said. “Winds will topple trees and power lines, and roads and buildings will be flooded.
More than 200,000 people were without power in South Carolina Thursday, officials said.
Hurricane Dorian was a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph sustained winds at noon Wednesday, as it moved north at 8 mph.
Predictions of rainfall in excess of 10 inches continued to grow over night, with nearly all coastal counties in North Carolina expected to get 10 to 15 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As damage and flooding spread, the town of Southport in coastal Brunswick County declared a curfew starting at noon Thursday and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office encouraged people in other areas not to leave their homes.
“Conditions are deteriorating and with confirmed tornadoes in the area, it is simply not safe to be out,” said a Facebook post from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s office.
Gusts of 70 mph were reported in South Carolina Thursday as the storm’s eye came within 80 miles of Charleston.
North Carolina officials reported the state’s first Dorian-related death occurred Monday, when an 85-year-old Columbus County man “fell off a ladder while preparing his house for the storm.”
At least three of the 20-plus deaths attributed to Dorian involved men falling off ladders as they prepared for the storm or removed trees, according to the Weather Channel. Most of the deaths occurred in the Bahamas.
Mandatory evacuations of barrier islands began Wednesday and coastal counties near the bays, coastal rivers and sounds have also called for residents to evacuate near the coast.
State officials have mobilized nearly 400 North Carolina National Guard soldiers in armories across the state and deployed water rescue teams close to the coast in anticipation of emergencies.
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