Former FEMA Official: Florence’s Rains A Major Concern

Former FEMA Official: Florence’s Rains A Major Concern

4:53pm Sep 14, 2018
High winds and water surround buildings as Hurricane Florence hits Front Street in downtown Swansboro N.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

As Florence lurches across the state, it brings with it many hazards: high-speed winds capable of downing trees, and those same trees falling on power lines.

And as of mid-day Friday, there had been four reported fatalities in North Carolina, including a mother and infant who were killed in New Hanover County when a tree fell on their home.

Craig Fugate is a former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He says that the biggest threat from Hurricane Florence could be the rain, with some coastal communities already seeing storm surges as high as 10 feet.

“I think again the term life-threatening, catastrophic, flash flooding, needs to be taken seriously,” says Fugate. “The problem is it's going to be hard to know with certainty which areas will see the heaviest rainfall. That's why the entire region has to be prepared for this.”

And as the storm continues to creep inland, it’s bringing significant rainfall, with many areas of North Carolina under a flash flood watch.

“And that’s one of the harder things to forecast,” says Fugate. “We know generally, [and] we’re seeing now forecast range is 20 inches plus or more in some areas, but until that rain starts coming down it’s really hard to tell what the local impacts are going to be.”

As of this afternoon, hundreds of people have been rescued from rising waters in New Bern, N.C., and that number is expected to climb.

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