Hurricane Florence is thrashing the Carolina coast with devastating flooding and hurricane-force winds. One of the hardest hit areas so far is New Bern, North Carolina, where about 150 people are waiting to be rescued after more than 10 feet of powerful storm surge flooded the small city. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area earlier this week.
Police say 150-200 residents have already been rescued in New Bern and 150 or more people are awaiting rescue, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. Water levels are expected to rise further later today during high tide.
As the storm slowly churned toward the shore, people who chose not to evacuate got caught in the floodwaters. They tried desperately to return to their homes as the Neuse River overflowed its banks. The city of New Bern tweeted to its residents early Friday morning, “We have 2 out-of-state FEMA teams here for swift water rescue. More are on the way to help us. WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU.”
New Bern residents were putting out calls for help on social media, claiming they couldn’t get through to 911. Lt. David Daniels of the New Bern Police Department told “CBS This Morning” that 911 calls in his town are being answered and the “system is up and working.”
Daniels said there are no reports of injuries at this time and recommends people get out if they’re able to safely do so but warned against driving in standing water.
New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw confirmed there were no reports of fatalities as of early Friday morning.
“New Bern is just not used to this level of a hurricane,” Outlaw said.
The New Bern Police Department tweeted early Thursday evening “City of New Bern officials are encouraging all residents to shelter in place due to Hurricane Florence.” But Outlaw said on Friday morning it’s “not a bad idea to get in your car and get west of I-95” if residents feel they can safely do so.
Craven County Emergency Management confirmed reports there are New Bern residents trapped on rooftops. Storm surge search and rescue operations have been underway across the county.
New Bern police have issued a 24-hour mandatory curfew starting at 7 a.m. Friday morning.
The Category 1 storm forced ABC affiliate WCTI 12 in New Bern to evacuate during a live broadcast. WCTI anchor Jaime McCutcheon tweeted: “So that really did just happen. The water started rising and we evacuated almost an entire TV station in about 15 minutes.”
Meanwhile, CBS affiliate WNCT reports that more than 60 people, including an infant and children, were rescued from a hotel in Jacksonville, N.C. after strong winds threatened the structural integrity of the building.
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