Hurricane Florence Friday live updates: Downed trees and flooded roads

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As Hurricane Florence hurtles into the Carolinas and residents face what’s now a Category 1 storm, our reporters and photojournalists are on the coast and across the region. Their Thursday reports are here and their Wednesday reports are here.

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Southport, NC: No sightseeing, please

11:15 a.m.: Sustained winds are at 36 mph in Southport, and low-lying areas are under water.

In some places it’s from heavy rain, others from the Cape Fear River, which is rolling over the bulkhead along the town’s waterfront as it does in storms.

Sightseers out looking are being stopped by local officers, who tell them to go back to a safer place.


Wilmington, NC: Taking a beating

11 a.m.: The older neighborhoods in Wilmington took a beating from 100-year-old oak trees.

Market Street, a main connector between downtown and Interstate 40, was blocked by oaks in at least a half dozen spots. Huge trees were broken and splayed across lawns or leaning in houses.

Streetlamps were smashed. Windows were broken. Chunks of roofing metal lay splayed in the streets.

Downtown Wilmington, while spared flooding from the Cape Fear River, was nearly unnavigable because streets were blocked by tree trunks.

And the storm kept blowing.


Calabash, NC: Branches all over

9:15 a.m.: As the front edge of Florence hits Calabash, trees are losing branches and a few trees in low-lying areas have come down.

The tide is still low, so there is no flooding along the waterfront yet from the Calabash River.


Little River, SC: Suddenly in the dark


Hotel refugees at the Sleep Inn in Garden City, SC.

Martha Quillin

8:45 a.m.: Hurricane Florence refugees from North and South Carolina gathered in the lobby of the Sleep Inn on U.S. 17 in Little River.

Unlike many, they actually were enjoying a hot breakfast. But right in the middle of it, the power went out as the wind outside picked up.


Wilmington, NC: Good karma

8 a.m.: The only comfort at Comfort Suites arrived thanks to Mitchell Foor, a volunteer with a huge Dodge Ram.

Before the sun rose, he had a generator working in the truck bed, firing up the ice machine and the coffee pot.


Benjamin Landero tries to shoot video as hurricane-force winds pound the Comfort Suites in Wilmington, N.C., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, as Hurricane Florence makes landfall..

Chuck Liddy

A storm veteran, he transported 100 people out of Lumberton in 2016 using the same Dodge.

“I’m a firm believer in karma,” he said in the hotel’s dark lobby.


Wilmington, NC: Not the usual breakfast

7:15 a.m.: At Wilmington’s Comfort Inn, the staff hunkered down in the three-story building rather than risk danger at home.

They brought husbands, mothers, children and dogs, huddled on sofas in the dark lobby.

Housekeeper Dee Branch brought her 5-month-old kitten, Alex.

“He’s watching out the window,” she said as the parking lot filled with water. “He ain’t tripping or nothing.”


Mitchell Floor (left) holds a flashlight as Comfort Suites general manager Beth Bratz (center) and employee Dee Branch go to make coffee as Hurricane Florence rages in Wilmington, N.C. Thursday Sept. 14, 2018. The area lost power around 4 a.m. and the facility was running small lights, phone chargers and the coffee machine on a generator.

Chuck Liddy

Even with winds gusting to 90 mph, she rose to fix breakfast.

“Definitely won’t be eggs,” she said.


Myrtle Beach, SC: Dogs left without food and water

6:44 a.m.: Police say three dogs were left at an evacuated home without food or water.

Officers were called to a home on Clark Street in reference to animal cruelty and found two small white dogs inside a chain-linked kennel, a report said. Police said there was also a small black dog inside the home.

While investigating, police found out the people who lived at the home had evacuated and would not be back until Sunday, authorities said.

Animal control took the dogs. The report does not say whether the suspect will face charges.


Morehead City, NC: A fierce night

6:33 a.m.: After a night of relentless wind and rain, Morehead City woke to more of the same early Friday. The fierce wind often sounded like someone pounding on the door of the Quality Inn in town.

Power has been off for hours. Landline phones are out, and cell coverage is going in and out.


Wilmington, NC: A dark morning

6:20 a.m.: Wilmington woke to blackness and howling winds Friday as the monster Hurricane Florence finally came ashore.

Much if not all the city endured what could be a multiday assault without power, navigating dark rooms with head lamps while trees bent double outside.

Flash flood warnings were in effect, and heavy winds with sideways rain made venturing outside impossible.


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